Croatia’s parliament officially passed a law which grants compensation to victims of rape, which took place during Croatia’s war of independence against Yugoslavia, about 20 years ago. The bill, was passed with 86 votes and entitles each victim to a one- time payment of USD $14,504 (100,000 kuna), a monthly allowance of 2,500 kuna, along with free access to counseling, healthcare and medical and legal aid. The law is to take effect next January.
In 2008, the United Nations Security Council adopted a resolution that stated that rape and other forms of sexual violence could constitute as war crimes, following reports of mass rapes in Croatia’s neighbor, Bosnia and in Rwanda.
The victims claim that the law and compensation is worth nothing if the perpetrators continue to walk freely. The need for a proper justice system is prevalent as victims want to see their perpetrators punished. Financial compensation is welcomed but is definitely not the final step in this journey.
In Bosnia, Croatia’s neighboring country, around 20,000 women are believed to have been raped during the 1992-1995 war. Women living in the Bosnia-Croat Federation can get monthly payments as civilian victims of war.
In the Serb Republic, Bosnia’s other half, victims are required to go through a long process of proving the crime. As a result, many victims of rape have felt discouraged to follow through the process as it is too complicated.
The law is to serve as a model for other countries at war and can look up to Croatia when it comes to dealing with such matters. Matic War Veterans Minister Fred Matic told lawmakers that, “Such legislation is rare in the world, and it is the first of its kind in this region whereby the victims will get a dignified one-off financial compensation.”