Stop the Violence Against the Women of Bosnia and Herzegovina!

A painting by a woman survivor, a resident of the Bihac Safe House.

According to research, from 2015 to 2022 in Bosnia and Herzegovina – a country with a population of approximately 3.5 million – more than 60 women were killed by their husbands, partners, or family members.  According to UN Women data, every second woman in Bosnia and Herzegovina, over the age of 15, has experienced some form of physical, psychological, or sexual violence.

N.S. is a woman born in 1975 in northwestern Bosnia and Herzegovina, who suffered psychological and physical violence by her husband for many years and always kept silent about it. This year, when she told her husband that she was diagnosed with breast cancer, he said that she should immediately find herself a grave and hang herself. After undergoing a mastectomy, N.S. arrived home and instead of receiving care, she was physically abused and battered by her husband. When her husband also beat their daughter, that was the last straw for N.S. – she finally decided to seek protection in a safe house. Due to the acute trauma she experienced, it took her many hours of occupational therapy to articulate the trauma and violence she was subjected to. In the beginning, N.S. channeled her pain and healing by painting and doing handicrafts, until she felt capable of testifying before the police.

Violence against women represents almost 100% of cases of family violence in Bosnia and Herzegovina. It is often triggered by very banal and nonsensical circumstances such as the lunch not being ready on time, or the soup served being too hot. Such were the reasons used by the husband of G.I. who beat her so brutally with a piece of wood, while their child with special needs watched, that she ended up spending several days in a hospital. Such were also the reasons that contributed to another and final episode of slapping and strangulation of D.M. after which she finally sought help at a safe house. This campaign is benefiting one safe house that has supported an 83-year-old woman expelled from her home by her son, as well as a 12-year-old girl with special needs who had to be taken into a shelter due to the constant violence she was exposed to in her home.

Moved to action by the horrific and brutal murders of women in 2023, BHeart launched a campaign to provide financial aid for three safehouses in BiH, which have less support and resources than those in larger city centers.

These organizations are “Women from the Una River” – Bihać, “Citizens’ Association Budućnost” – Modriča, and “Association Majka Krispina” – Međugorje.

Considering that the majority of violence against women takes place within their homes, it is of critical importance to help organizations that guarantee a safe environment for women to escape and seek refuge and also to receive medical and legal assistance, psychological therapy, and participate in education, advocacy, and economic empowerment programs.

Uniquely, Women from the Una River assists refugee women and children, while the Association Majka Krispina accepts and helps unmarried pregnant women and women with substance use disorder. The organization Citizens’ Association Budućnost is known for its programs of economic empowerment. All three organizations also provide counseling for perpetrators of violence.

We wish we could describe the surprise and joy the members of these organizations expressed when we contacted them to coordinate fundraising support from the United States and globally. They informed us that the work they were focused on was not an ordinary job for them, but something they did from their hearts. Every step in the right direction – no matter how small – helps women in their centers regain confidence, become economically independent, and break away from violence.

We hope you can join us in supporting the women of BiH who need immediate shelter from their abusers. Our goal is to collect $2,000 for each of the aforementioned organizations, but with your help, we may be able to surpass this figure!

By participating in this campaign, you are demonstrating your solidarity and support for the women of Bosnia and Herzegovina, despite being thousands of miles from them.

Every donation counts and is important.

We invite you to join us in the fight for life, safety and respect for the women of Bosnia and Herzegovina!

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