The book is an attempt to document wartime sexual violence, unveiling the manners in which the trauma transcends the subject of the lived experience, and ‘appropriates’ families, the community, and the society in general. It aims at shedding light on the crisis and gross human rights violations during the last war in Kosovo, by placing the perspective on traumatic experiences of war - expulsion, torture, violence, persecution, imprisonment, rape, starvation, etc. as well as their relationship with the ‘present’.
The project explores long-term ramifications of wartime sexual violence, through stories of men and women, daughters and sisters, who (co)exist and deal with the uncharted trauma, shame, and the collective stigma. This enables spaces for ‘foreign histories’ to enter and affect our field of awareness, by allowing them getting heard and acknowledged in sensitive nuance, as opposed to generalizations or statistics.
In the book promotion event, a panel comprised of subject-in-matter experts, namely, Dr. Feride Rushiti, director of the Kosova Rehabilitation Center for Torture Victims, Dr. Vjollca Krasniqi, sociologist and associated professor at University of Prishtina, and Dr. Naim Telaku, psychologist and dean at University AAB, discussed ways in which direct or indirect exposure to sexual violence trauma affect subjects, siblings and society, and their relationships. The discussion additionally explored the public discourse on sexual violence as part of a broader discussion on the historical narrative, collective memory, public policies, etc.
Through a video message addressed at the attendees of book promotion event, Mr. Kolbassia Haoussou a torture survivor that moved to the UK in 2005 after fleeing persecution in central Africa and leader of Survivors Speak OUT, a network of torture survivors, shared insights of personal experiences and the ways of overcoming persecution, fear, stigma, etc. and transforming them into driving forces for empowerment and change.
Through a video conferencing deputy speaker of Kosovo parliament and deputy prime minister, Ms. Saranda Bogujevci spoke on the importance of dealing with the past, documentation and addressing issues stemming from the ‘uncharted’ realms of war for societies to overcome antagonisms and to establish long lasting peace.
“Beyond pain, towards courage” volume is the second in a series, part of exploring trauma related to wartime sexual violence. It follows the publication “I want to be heard: memory book with stories of women survivors of torture during the last war in Kosovo” (2017) which delivers a detailed insight into experiences of wartime sexual violence, stigmatization, exclusion, denial, etc., and of the resilience, support, and comfort.
The purpose of “Beyond pain, towards courage” is to call for humanly reflection and empathy, acknowledging the experiences of the past. The stories that abstract the ways people understand human nature and human actions should be heard, known, and explored. Reflections on violence, rape, torture, fear, and anxiety in war settings are vital for a healthy way of dealing with the difficult past and establishing social cohesion and sustainable peace. The narrators in the book, while shedding light upon their traumatic experiences, they testify about the vital value of storytelling and remembering, as a lesson for non-reoccurrence of historical wrongdoings.
“Beyond pain, towards courage! Stories about the trauma of wartime sexual violence” is available HERE.
The book was prepared and published by forumZFD program in Kosovo and The Kosova Rehabilitation Center for Torture Victims (KRCT), with the support of Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the Embassy of the United Kingdom in Prishtina, and the Swiss Embassy in Kosovo.
* In 2015, the United Nations adopted 19 June as the International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence at Conflict. Marking this day raises awareness on the need to give an end to sexual violence at conflict, to honor victims and survivors of sexual violence worldwide, and to honor all those who have courageously dedicated or lost their lives in an effort to end these crimes.