From: Bledar Qalliu
Kosovo Stadium Gives Voice to Victims of Wartime Sexual Violence 

The pandemic has left stadiums empty and quiet virtually all over the world, but this week Kosovo’s main stadium became the arena to boost the voice of thousands of war rape victims.

The Kosova Rehabilitation Centre for Torture Victims (KRCT) dressed its thousands seats with images of anemone flowers during the Kosovo-Moldova football match on Wednesday, to draw attention to the ongoing struggle of more that 20 thousand wartime rape victims in the country.

The overwhelming images of the delicate flower, the unusual silence, and the missing calls of the thousands who should have filled the seats made up for a touching symbolism and a loud call for justice.

Exit News spoke to the civil society organization behind the activity.

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The KRCT has worked since the aftermath of the Kosovo war in 1999 to support the women and men who survived the horror exercised by the Serbian state through its military, while also raising awareness among the public of the social stigma around the taboo topic of rape.

The organization’s current motto of activities, “Be My Voice”, has followed since 2018 the previous “Listen to My Voice” motto. “Be My Voice” is meant to represent the victims’ call to society and institutions for more support.

Arzana Kraja and Dardan Luta conceptualized and designed the symbol of anemone, a flower widely found in Kosovo, to symbolize the support and empathy for survivors, as well as fragility and sensitivity.

The KRCT explained that the rapes committed against the Albanian population during the war were one of Serbia’s means of warfare aimed not only at humiliating the individual but also at tearing families apart, as well as communities and the society in a wider sense.

Journalist Milind Behluli of T7 TV recalled the victims’ recounts of the horror they lived through during the 1998-1999 war with Serbia:

“One of the women told me she used to be raped up to 13 times a day. Another one showed me the crosses the Serbian soldiers “had drawn” with knives on her body during the rape. She added that she has to look at the crosses every time she showers and remember those painful days. Another wartime sexual violence victim told me she wished she could burn her body. Another woman told me she had seen men also being sexually violated by Serbian soldiers. These women and men are anonymous today, the recounts of most of them are unheard of, but they have a common name: the freedom of Kosovo,” he wrote on Friday.

None of the Serbian criminals have been convicted of rape crimes so far, the KRCT told Exit News.

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