The first women’s court in the territory of Europe was held in Sarajevo from 7th to 10th of May 2015, organized by 10 women’s groups from the former Yugoslavia.
Those were: Mothers’ Movement of the enclaves of Srebrenica and Žepa and the Foundation Cure, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Hercegovina, Center for Women and Peace Studies Anima, Kotor, Montenegro, Center for Women Victims of War and Center for Women Studies, Zagreb, Croatia, Kosovo Women Network, Pristina, Kosovo, Council for Gender Equality, Skopje, Macedonia, Women’s Lobby, Ljubljana, Slovenia, Center for Women Studies and Women in Black, Belgrade, Serbia).
Women in Black were the carriers of program activities of the Women’s Court during the previous five years.
Women’s Court was preceded by a press conference on May 7th, with the members of the Organizing Committee of the Women’s Court speaking, and started with the street action Women together for peace. The march took place in the city’s main streets, and it was attended by hundreds of women.
In the Bosnian Cultural Center on the 8th and 9th May five sessions were held – testimonies of women about suffered crimes and injustices, and on the resistance of women.
About these crimes 36 witnesses testified – from all countries of former Yugoslavia (Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Slovenia and Serbia). Witnesses spoke of individual experience that reflects the experiences of a large number of women. These witnesses went through the process of organizing the Women’s Court, they were actively participating in the creation of the program and participated in the final selection of the witness – they have become the subjects of the entire process. During this process a strong network of witnesses for Women’s Court was created, it is a solidarity community of women, above and beyond national divisions and borders.
The testimonies of the witness were divided into five sessions:
– The war against civilians (ethnic / militaristic / GBV) – 11 witnesses
– A woman’s body – battlefield (sexual crimes in war) – 4 witnesses
– Military violence and counteraction of women – 7 witnesses
– The ethnic violence – 8 witnesses
– Undeclared war (socioeconomic crimes against women) – 6 witnesses
After each session of testimony, associates of Women’s Court analyzed the political, temporal and spatial context of the crime and violence. In this study 12 associates of WC/ experts were included: Rada Iveković, Vjollca Krasniqi, Renata Jambrešić Kirin, Miroslava Malešević, Snježana Milivojević (for war against civilians and ethnic violence), Marijana Senjak and Gaby Mishkovsky (for sexual violence in war), Staša Zajović, Snežana Obrenović, Bojan Aleksov (for militaristic violence), Tanja Djurić Kuzmanović and Senka Rastoder (for economic violence), half of them being involved in working directly in meetings with potential witnesses during the five-year preparation process of organizing the Women’s Court.
Within the Women’s Court on 8th and 9th of May, evening meetings were held – “Power of women international solidarity” in which the following people spoke: Naila Ajesh (Gaza, Palestine), Lily Traubman (Women in Black, Israel), Nora Cortinas (Mother of the May Square, Argentina).
On the last day of the Women’s Court the international panel of eminent regional legal experts, historians, peace activists (Vesna Rakić Vodinelić, Gorana Mlinarević, Latinka Perović, Vesna Teršelić) and international (Charlotte Bunch, Diana Otto, Kirsten Campbell) spoke their recommendations and decisions on the testimony of women, according to the feminist model of justice.
Women’s Court was followed by the program of engaged art collectives (Multimedia Center / Led Art / Art Clinic, Novi Sad, Dah Theater, Act Women, Škart, Belgrade), the Group for video activism of Women in Black, as well as individuals (Marija Aranđelović, Marija Vidić, Jelena Marković, Vahida Ramujkić and others).
Women’s Court was attended by over 500 people from all the countries of former Yugoslavia, but also from Argentina, Algeria, Palestine, Israel, USA, Spain, Italy, Sweden, Austria, Belgium, Great Britain, etc.
With the event in Sarajevo the process did not stop. It was a stimulus to continue creating new models of justice from feminist perspective. It is our duty first of all towards the witnesses and also the expression of our responsibility for enormous burden of the recent past.