The Duchess of Cornwall in Osijek on Tuesday met members of an association helping victims of sexual violence in war, telling them they had done the right thing by encouraging women to break the silence, seek help and legal protection, and congratulating them on an excellent job.

Duchess Camilla talked with Marijana Senjak of the state commission which awards Homeland War sexual victim status, Visnja Misin, a lawyer representing victims in court, and Ruzica Ramljak of the Suncica association, which helps victims.

Senjak informed the duchess that Croatia passed a law on the rights of victims of sexual violence in the 1991-95 Homeland War in mid-2015. In drawing up the law, the War Veterans Ministry worked together with the UN Development Programme and the British Embassy Zagreb. The law contains all relevant UN conventions and regulations, and is one of the first and more comprehensive laws regulating the needs of sexual war victims in the conflicts in the former Yugoslavia.

Misin said that during the Homeland War 3,000 women, children and men were subjected to major sexual violence, but that the police, the prosecution and civil society organisations were officially investigating only 147 cases. Even in cases when the victims came forward and testified, only 36 indictments have been filed and 15 convictions handed down, she said, adding that some victims had died, as 25 years had passed since the war.

"Representing victims of the worst sexual violence is extremely difficult. Many women can't talk about what they went through because, with every testimony, they relive it," the attorney said.

She described to the duchess one of her most difficult cases, that of a woman from Vukovar who was 23 in 1991. After being captured, she was taken to a concentration camp in Sremska Mitrovica, Serbia where she was systematically raped for nine months by an unknown number of guards, soldiers and paramilitaries. She remained pregnant but lost the baby in the seventh month of pregnancy on the floor of a cold cell. "We want to believe that the wheels of justice grind slow but grind fine," Misin said.

The Suncica association was named after an eight-month-old baby whose mother was raped by Serb paramilitaries in 1991. "Our association is financed through donations and works on collecting testimonies and evidence as well as on winning victims' trust so that they can talk about their experiences, helping them prepare to testify in court," said Ramljak.

The duchess of Cornwall welcomed the efforts of all those helping victims of sexual violence.

You have done the right thing. You have encouraged women to break the silence, seek help and legal protection. We hope that their example will encourage other women victims to talk about what they went through. I congratulate you on the excellent job you are doing, Camilla said.





Related stories

Latest news

Syrian opposition rules out future role for President al-Assad

The Syrian opposition said Friday it would not accept any role for President Bashar al-Assad in the future of the war-torn country, reacting to a recent US shift saying that removing al-Assad is no longer a priority for Washington.

Russian Army integrates breakaway forces of Georgian province

Parts of the small fighting forces of the Georgian breakaway province of South Ossetia have been placed under Russian military control, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Friday.

Czech Republic's Pilsner Urquell beer is now Japanese

Japanese brewing company Asahi completed its takeover of the Czech brewery Pilsner Urquell on Friday, Asahi said in a statement.

Judge approves 25-million-dollar settlement of Trump University case

A US district judge on Friday approved a 25-million-dollar settlement of lawsuits and state fraud allegations against Trump University, the US president's now-defunct business venture.

Former Thai premier Thaksin to junta on reconciliation: 'Cut me out'

Former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra on Friday announced that he is not interested in the junta-led reconciliation process, three days after the junta handed him a half-a-billion-dollar tax bill for his past business deal.

Dalic: We welcome possible deal between Agrokor and banks

The government welcomes the possibility of an agreement being concluded between the Agrokor food company and creditor banks, and the bill on vitally important companies is not a fallback plan but the result of the government's care for the overall economic and financial stability of Croatia, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy Martina Dalic told a press conference in Zagreb on Friday.

Croatia, China sign action plan for cooperation in agriculture

The Croatian and Chinese ministries of agriculture on Friday signed an action plan for cooperation in the field of agriculture for the period 2017-2018, the Croatian ministry said in a statement.

ZSE indices up, Agrokor shares in focus of investor interest

The Zagreb Stock Exchange (ZSE) indices on Friday rose by more than 1.8%, with stocks of the Agrokor food and retail concern being in the focus of investor interest again.

Berlin police defend handling of Berlin market attacker

Berlin police defended themselves on Friday against accusations that they stopped surveillance on Berlin Christmas market attacker despite knowing in June 2016 he was dangerous.

Croatia, creditors tailor emergency measures to save tottering giant

Croatia's tottering retail and food giant Agrokor reached an agreement with its creditors, putting its debts standby and allowing it to continue working during emergency restructuring, the Croatian branch of Austria's Erste Bank said Friday.

Agrokor's creditors say standstill agreement to go into force today

A standstill agreement regarding the Agrokor concern's existing financial obligations to banks will take effect on Friday, additional capital will be injected into the concern in the coming days and the concern will be actively restructured, which includes a change of its management, it was said on Friday after a meeting between Agrokor's suppliers and creditor banks.

Palestinians, UN slam Israel's new settlement plan

Palestinians, Israeli activists and the UN lambasted the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday, a day after it gave the go-ahead for the first new West Bank settlement in a quarter of a century.

South Sudan rebels release three abducted foreign oil workers

South Sudanese rebels have released three foreign engineers they abducted in early March in the oil-rich Upper Nile region, Foreign Affairs Ministry official Mawein Makol Arik said on Friday.

Turkish opposition: Imprisoned party chief has gone on hunger strike

The head of Turkey's pro-Kurdish opposition party has launched a hunger strike from prison.

European leagues threaten Champions League schedule clashes

The European Professional Football Leagues (EPFL) on Friday threatened schedule clashes on Champions League matchdays in an ongoing dispute with the governing body UEFA.

Danish court revokes citizenship of IS volunteer

A Danish appellate court on Friday stripped a man of his Danish citizenship for volunteering to fight for the extremist Islamic State in Syria.

Banks and Agrokor agree on key elements of standstill agreement

Member banks of the coordinating committee of financial creditors and representatives of the Agrokor food company have in principle agreed on key elements of a standstill agreement, which is expected to be signed later today, announcing changes in the company's management team, Erste Bank said in a statement on Friday afternoon.

Syrian man on trial in Sweden; mosque attack labelled terrorism

A Syrian man went on trial Friday in the southern Swedish city of Malmo, charged with terrorism and arson after an attack last year on a building used as an assembly hall by Shiite Muslims.