Rada Boric speaks to Taiwanese women 2016/08/22
Rada Boric and Taiwanese women's leaders
Leading Croatian feminist activist and scholar Rada Boric spoke to a group of women’s organizations in Taipei on August 12, 2016 at an event organized by the Garden of Hope Foundation (GOH) in partnership with the Women’s Rights Foundation.
The meeting was attended by around 50 people, representing NGOs including the Awakening Foundation, the Modern Women’s Foundation, ECPAT-Taiwan, and Taipei Women’s Rescue Foundation, and the government’s Ministry of Health and Welfare (MOHW) and Legislative Yuan, as well as members of the public. The meeting was chaired by Chi Hui-jung, CEO of GOH.Rada started by saying that the one thing that unites women around the world is violence. This was seen in a stark way during the breakup of the former Yugoslavia. As the country was torn apart by war, women on all sides of the ethnic divides were raped and killed. The plight of women refugees inspired Rada to switch from working as a linguist, and author of the first Finish-Croat dictionary, and throw herself into sheltering women who had been raped and displaced during the conflict.“I’m not claiming women are more peaceful than men,” said Rada, “but the peace movement in the 1990s, and even support for male consciousness objectors, was started by women.” During the war when the telephone lines were cut between the two sides, women sent faxes to Italy and other third countries to tell each other that they were not enemies and were still friends. This developed into the Mothers For Peace campaign. Mothers would go to Belgrave to demand that the Yugoslav army let their sons leave the army so sons would not kill each other. Of course, this did not succeed. But as a result of that initiative, Croatian women’s groups started working with refugees with the principle that they would help women whatever their ethnic background – Croatian, Serbian or Bosnian. In Zagreb, Rada and other women founded a center for women war victims, which accepted Bosnian Muslims. As a result, she was attacked in the newspaper for supporting an enemy. Rada said the center, which developed out of a 1988 shelter with counseling services for women during the socialist era, was important because it was the first to support women to regain control of their lives. Twenty-five years on, in the national courts in Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia and Montenegro, only a handful of men have been charged for rape. “This is why as women we are disappointed by how little that has been done for women in time of war,” Rada said, “so we launched the Women’s Court”. The Court fights for justice that women did not get in the last 25 years. This is the first court of its kind in Europe. It makes women subjects, not objects of justice. Rada wanted to the court to make those who committed crimes to be accountable. So the key word was “responsibility”. Rather than accusing all people from the opposite side of being rapists. The court was organized in Sarajevo as the symbolic place of the worst suffering in the former Yugoslavia. After listening to reports from Taiwanese women’s organizations, Rada said she saw many similarities between the situation in Taiwan and Croatia, and commented that the success story of the Women’s Court could serve as an example for seeking retributions for comfort women and other issues of gender justice.
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