Eastern Europe

Human Trafficking, Human Security and the Balkans


Friman, H. Richard, and Simon Reich, eds. 2007. Human Trafficking, Human Security and the Balkans. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press. 

Authors: H. Richard Friman, Simon Reich


In the aftermath of four Yugoslav wars, ongoing efforts at reconstruction in South Eastern Europe have devoted relatively limited attention to dimensions of human security that enhance protections for the region's most vulnerable populations in their daily lives. It is in this context that South Eastern Europe, and especially the Western Balkan region, has emerged as a nexus point in human trafficking.

Human Trafficking, Human Security, and the Balkans brings together leading scholars, NGO representatives, and government officials to analyze and offer solutions to this challenge. The contributors explore the economic dynamics of human trafficking in an era of globalization, which has greatly facilitated not only the flow of goods and services but also the trade in human beings. They also examine the effectiveness of international and transnational policies and practice, the impact of peacekeeping forces, and the emergence of national and regional action plans in the Western Balkans and, more broadly, in South Eastern Europe. Finally, they consider the nature and ramifications of the gap between human security rhetoric and institutional policy steps against human trafficking. 

Keywords: ethnic conflict, shadow economies, human trafficking, security

Topics: Democracy / Democratization, Economies, Governance, Post-Conflict Governance, International Law, Justice, Security, Human Security, Trafficking, Human Trafficking Regions: Europe, Balkans, Eastern Europe

Year: 2007

The Space Between Us: Negotiating Gender and National Identities in Conflict


Cockburn, Cynthia. 1998. The Space Between Us: Negotiating Gender and National Identities in Conflict. London: Zed Books.

Author: Cynthia Cockburn


In this original study, Cynthia Cockburn takes us into three war situations to reveal how certain women have quietly chosen to cross the space between their differences with words instead of bullets. (WorldCat)

Keywords: conflict, identity politics, law, reconstruction

Topics: Armed Conflict, Democracy / Democratization, Gender, Women, Nationalism, Peacebuilding Regions: MENA, Asia, Middle East, Europe, Balkans, Eastern Europe, Northern Europe Countries: Bosnia & Herzegovina, Israel, Palestine / Occupied Palestinian Territories, United Kingdom

Year: 1998

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and Psychiatric Co-Morbidity: Symptoms in a Random Sample of Female Bosnian Refugees


Sundquist, Kristina, Leena-Maria Johansson, Valeri DeMarinis, Sven-Erik Johansson, Jan Sundquist. 2005. "Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and Psychiatric Co-Morbidity: Symptoms in a Random Sample of Female Bosnian Refugees." European Psychiatry 20 (2): 158-164.

Authors: Kristina Sundquist, Leena-Maria Johansson, Valeri DeMarinis, Sven-Erik Johansson, Jan Sundquist


Objectives: This study investigated psychological symptoms in Bosnian women 3–4 years after their arrival in Sweden.

Subjects and methods: A simple random sample of 163 Bosnian women aged 19–59 was drawn from the Swedish populations register in 1996. The control group consisted of 392 Swedish-born women. Data were collected in face-to-face interviews. The Hopkins Symptom Checklist 25 (HSCL-25) and the Posttraumatic Symptom Scale (PTSS-10) were used to measure psychological symptoms of depression, anxiety, psychological distress, and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Unconditional logistic regression was used to estimate odds ratios (OR) for psychological symptoms after adjustment for age, country of birth, education, marital status, economic difficulties, social network, and feeling secure.

Results: The prevalence of symptoms of PTSD was 28.3% among the Bosnian women. Bosnian women had significantly higher risks of symptoms of depression, anxiety, and psychological distress than Swedish-born women. For depression the odds ratio was 9.50 among Bosnian women.

Conclusion: Psychiatric community interventions need to target Bosnian refugee women. Awareness among health-care workers who encounter these women in a clinical setting should be improved.

Keywords: posttraumatic stress disorder, mental health, female refugees, depression, anxiety

Topics: Displacement & Migration, Refugees, Gender, Women, Health, Mental Health, PTSD, Trauma Regions: Europe, Balkans, Eastern Europe, Nordic states, Northern Europe Countries: Bosnia & Herzegovina, Sweden

Year: 2005

Rape, Torture, and Traumatization of Bosnian and Croatian Women


Kozaric-Kovacic, Dragica, Vera Folnegovic-Smalc, Jarmila Skrinjaric, Nathan M. Szajnberg, and Ana Marusic. 1995. "Rape, Torture, and Traumatization of Bosnian and Croatian Women." American Journal of Orthopsychiatry 65 (3): 428-433.

Authors: Dragica Kozaric-Kovacic, Vera Folnegovic-Smalc, Jarmila Skrinjaric, Nathan. M. Szajnberg, Ana Marusic


The first 25 Bosnian women admitted to the Zagreb Obstetrics and Gynaecological Clinic or its associated regional psychiatric centers were assessed using both clinical and post-traumatic stress disorder interviews. Most of the women had been multiply traumatized; all had been repeatedly raped. Psychological status was assessed for those women who were not impregnated, for those impregnated who received abortions, and for those impregnated who carried the fetus to term.

Keywords: war rape, torture, trauma, mental health, posttraumatic stress disorder

Topics: Gender, Women, Gender-Based Violence, Health, Mental Health, PTSD, Reproductive Health, Trauma, Sexual Violence, Rape, SV against Women, Torture Regions: Europe, Balkans, Eastern Europe Countries: Bosnia & Herzegovina, Croatia

Year: 1995

Psychological Consequences of War Trauma and Postwar Social Stressors in Women in Bosnia and Herzegovina


Klarić, Miro, Branka Klarić, Aleksandra Stevanović, Jasna Grković, and Suzana Jonovska. 2007. "Psychological Consequences of War Trauma and Postwar Social Stressors in Women in Bosnia and Herzegovina." Croatian Medical Journal 48: 167-176.

Authors: Miro Klarić, Branka Klarić, Aleksandra Stevanović, Jasna Grković, Suzana Jonovska


Aim: To assess the consequences of psychotrauma in civilian women in Herzegovina who were exposed to prolonged and repetitive traumatic war events and postwar social stressors.

Methods: The study included a cluster sample of 367 adult women, divided into two groups. One group (n = 187) comprised women from West Mostar who were exposed to serious traumatic war and post-war events. The other group (n = 180) comprised women from urban areas in Western Herzegovina who were not directly exposed to war destruction and material losses, but experienced war indirectly, through military drafting of their family members and friends. Demographic data on the women were collected by a questionnaire created for the purpose of this study. Data on trauma exposure and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms were collected by Harvard Trauma Questionnaire (HTQ) – Bosnia-Herzegovina version. General psychological symptoms were determined with Symptom Check List-90-revised (SCL-90-R). Data on postwar stressors were collected by a separate questionnaire.

Results: In comparison with the control group, women from Western Mostar experienced significantly more traumatic events (mean Å} standard deviation [SD], 3.3 Å} 3.2 vs 10.1 Å} 4.9, respectively, t = 15.91; P<0.001) and had more posttraumatic symptoms (12.3 Å} 10.3 vs 21.2 Å} 10.9, respectively, t = 8.42; P<0.001). They also had significantly higher prevalence of PTSD (4.4% vs 28.3%, respectively; χ2 = 52.56; P<0.001). The number of traumatic events experienced during the war was positively associated with postwar stressful events both in the West Mostar group (r = 0.223; P = 0.002) and control group (r = 0.276; P<0.001). Postwar stressful events contributed both to the number and intensity of PTSD symptoms and all general psychological symptoms measured with SCL-90 questionnaire, independently from the number of experienced traumatic war events.

Conclusion: Long-term exposure to war and postwar stressors caused serious psychological consequences in civilian women, with PTSD being only one of the disorders in the wide spectrum of posttraumatic reactions. Postwar stressors did not influence the prevalence of PTSD but they did contribute to the intensity and number of posttraumatic symptoms.

Keywords: trauma, mental health, posttraumatic stress disorder

Topics: Gender, Women, Health, Mental Health, PTSD, Trauma, Post-Conflict Regions: Europe, Balkans, Eastern Europe Countries: Bosnia & Herzegovina

Year: 2007

Gender, Social Support and Posttraumatic Stress in Postwar Kosovo


Ahern, Jennifer, Sandro Galea, William G. Fernandez, Bajram Koci, Ronald Waldman, and David Vlahov. 2004. "Gender, Social Support and Posttraumatic Stress in Postwar Kosovo." The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease 192 (11): 762-770.

Authors: Jennifer Ahern, Sandro Galea, William G. Fernandez, Bajram Koci, Ronald Waldman, David Vlahov


The effects of social support and traumatic experiences on mental health in conflict situations may be different by gender. The Kosovo Emergency Department Study was conducted in July and August 2001 to assess mental health 2 years after the end of the war in Kosovo. Of 306 emergency department patients (87.7% response rate), all were ethnic Albanian, 97.4% had experienced traumatic events, and 89.5% had posttraumatic stress symptoms. Women and persons who experienced more traumatic events had higher posttraumatic stress scores. Persons with social support had lower posttraumatic stress scores. In a final model, social support had a greater protective effect for women, whereas traumatic events had a greater detrimental effect on men. Two years after the war in Kosovo, there remained a high prevalence of posttraumatic stress symptoms, particularly among women with low social support. Interventions targeting social support may be important public health efforts in the postwar context.

Keywords: social support, trauma, posttraumatic stress, public health, mental health

Topics: Gender, Health, Mental Health, PTSD, Trauma, Humanitarian Assistance, Context-Appropriate Response to Trauma, Post-Conflict, Post-Conflict Reconstruction Regions: Europe, Balkans, Eastern Europe Countries: Kosovo

Year: 2004

Rape, Love and War - Personal or Political?


Ericsson, Kjersti. 2011. "Rape, Love and WarPersonal or Political?" Theoretical Criminology 15 (1): 67-82.

Author: Kjersti Ericsson


This article discusses how war rapes and consensual sexual relationships with enemy soldiers are framed and understood, with special emphasis on the consequences for the women involved. It [examines] war rapes in Bosnia-Herzegovina during the Balkan war and Danish and Norwegian women's sexual relationships with German occupant soldiers during the Second World War. I argue that the conception of women's sexuality as national property is central to understanding the attitudes towards both categories of women. To preserve their dignity, war rape victims may profit from a collective, political discourse. Women having had consensual relationships [with] enemy soldiers, however, have to extricate themselves from the collective and political discourse and interpret what happened to them as strictly personal.

Keywords: war rape, coping strategies, nation, sexuality, victim


Uses empirical research that has been done in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Denmark, Norway (latter countries in the post-WWII era). (Ericsson 67-70)


"Rape used as a weapon of war demonstrates that women in one sense are objects of men's transactions in this context: they are not violated as individual women, but as the nation's women: the attack on their sexuality is an affront to the national collective of men." (71)

"Despite this, not even war rape victims in Bosnia-Herzegovina could escape the suspicion that they might have been implicated in their own violation." (73)

"The stories of the Norwegian war children make one wonder: how will the mothers of children conceived through war rapes deal with questions from their sons and daughters when they want to know who their father is?" (76)

"To put it very shortly: relief for the rape victims lies in framing themselves as part of the collective, while for someone with consensual relations it lies in framing themselves as individuals." (77)

"Skjelsbæk mentions a fatwa issued by the imam of Sarajevo in 1994, a fatwa that both she and several of her interviewees deem very important.  In the fatwa, the imam declared that Bosnian women who had been subjected to sexual violence ought to be looked upon as war heroes.  The message that war rape victims were to be considered war heroes, and not least the source of this message, a religious authority, made this alternative conception a possible resource, both to individual women that had experienced rape, and for therapeutic work with rape victims." (77)

"On the other hand, if rape is understood mainly in a gendered frame of reference, the woman feels her female identity as damaged, and shame, guilt, and silence is the result." (78)

"However, if solidarity with raped women is made contingent upon a strong identification with the ethnic group, the woman as an autonomous individual may be seen as less important.  Even if the rape victim, through the ethnic interpretation, may escape being constructed as a woman of questionable morals, or as 'damaged goods' as Skjelsbæk  points out, other aspects of patriarchal patterns may nevertheless assert themselves….Some of the health workers interviewed by Skjelsbæk  also feel that there has been an increase in violence against women in post-war Bosnia-Herzegovina.  If this holds true, it fits with a conception of woman's body belonging to her ethnic or national group in the patriarchal sense, an ownership that is threatened in war and may have to be reinforced in post-war times.  If there has really been a backlash, this may perhaps be a manifestation of the sinister side of the notion linking a woman's body very strongly to her ethnic group." (79)


Topics: Armed Conflict, Combatants, Ethnicity, Gender, Gendered Power Relations, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Security, Sexual Violence, Rape, SV against Women, Sexuality Regions: Europe, Balkans, Eastern Europe, Nordic states, Northern Europe Countries: Bosnia & Herzegovina, Denmark, Norway

Year: 2011

The Whistleblower: Sex Trafficking, Military Contractors, and One Woman's Fight for Justice


Bolkovac, Kathryn and Cari Lynn. 2011. The Whistleblower: Sex Trafficking, Military Contractors, and One Woman's Fight for Justice. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Authors: Kathryn Bolkovac, Cari Lynn


When Nebraska police officer and divorced mother of three Kathryn Bolkovac saw a recruiting announcement for private military contractor DynCorp International, she applied and was hired. Good money, world travel, and the chance to help rebuild a war-torn country sounded like the perfect job. Bolkovac was shipped out to Bosnia, where DynCorp had been contracted to support the UN peacekeeping mission. She was assigned as a human rights investigator, heading the gender affairs unit. The lack of proper training sounded the first alarm bell, but once she arrived in Sarajevo, she found out that things were a lot worse. At great risk to her personal safety, she began to unravel the ugly truth about officers involved in human trafficking and forced prostitution and their connections to private mercenary contractors, the UN, and the U.S. State Department. After bringing this evidence to light, Bolkovac was demoted, threatened with bodily harm, fired, and ultimately forced to flee the country under cover of darkness--bringing the incriminating documents with her. Thanks to the evidence she collected, she won a lawsuit against DynCorp, finally exposing them for what they were. This is her story and the story of the women left behind. (WorldCat)

Topics: Gender, Women, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Private Military & Security, Peacekeeping, Rights, Human Rights, Women's Rights, Trafficking, Sex Trafficking Regions: Europe, Balkans, Eastern Europe Countries: Bosnia & Herzegovina

Year: 2011


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