Open letter to Minister of Labor and Social Welfare – ACT II




The results of indifference, unfairness and lack of female rights.

Over the past 17 years various ministers of social welfare and governments in Kosovo have turned a blind eye on the immense suffering of hundreds of families despite knowing the impact and consequences of war they must have endured.

The heroes of the war who have become influential state politicians over the course of years made sure they themselves were taken care of without giving a thought to the weakest victims of war, namely the female victims.

The well-known Jewish writer, Nobel Peace Prize winner and Holocaust survivor, Eliezer “Elie” Wiesel, who died in July this year, once said that a society’s most dangerous and frightening traits are indifference to other people and their own greed.

After having survived the Holocaust, Elie Wiesel dedicated the rest of his life to reminding the world about the horrors man is capable of committing and the fact that any society, people or country that is indifferent to the suffering among its own, is no better than those who commit crimes. This indifference will cause them to rot or be eaten up from the inside, eventually destroying their own society.

Here I am to remind you that the population of Kosovo was on the verge of being expelled from their own land and were in dire need of assistance, and their call for help was heard by the western world. Ever since the summer of 1999 Kosovo has been given billions of euros in economic aid by the EU, the US and the UN. In spite of these massive resources the political and intellectual leaders have not been willing to help the weakest of the weak – the female war victims who were ready to face the enemy soldiers and members of police without weapons in their hand and without anyone from the male population to defend them, and as a result were sexually abused. The men fled into the woods or into the mountains when their mothers, wives, sisters and daughters needed them most.

Shame on you political, intellectual and social leaders of Kosovo!

The political leaders throughout these 17 years have had one goal in mind, to make sure they received financial and other benefits. They insolently put themselves over others and completely overlooked the weakest of the weak in their own land.

Where have the intellectuals, society elite of the community been all this time?


Facts about the female war victims.

The total number of officially documented sexually abused women during the war of 1998-99 is the following:


a.       11800 raped and sexually abused women who were registered by various NGOs and OSCE, left Kosovo after the war.

b.      423 raped and sexually abused women who were registered by doctors and hospitals after the war and who still live in Kosovo.

c.       298 raped and sexually abused women have died since the war ended on account of economic difficulties that held them back from seeking medical help among other things.


Concerning point a.

These abused women seemed to have a clear understanding of the possibility of not being accepted by their own society, their political and social leaders and thus saw no other alternative than to leave their homeland. As things have developed in Kosovo since the summer of 1999 for the female war victims, those who decided to leave seem to have made the right decision. As I have been informed those who went to western countries received treatment and help to build up a new life in dignity, away from a degrading and humiliating treatment they would have received from their political and social leaders and a life in total poverty.


Concerning point b.

The group of abused women who voluntarily registered consists of 423 individuals, living in Kosovo to this day, were in a very grave situation both physically and psychologically, and for this reason were not fit for travelling anywhere. They have received next to nothing in terms of aid from their society and government who should have been responsible for their wellbeing and should have provided adequate physical and psychological support not only for them, but also for their children.


Concerning point c.

In the past 17 years there have been women who died each month from this group of sexually abused victims due to lack of economical means that could have helped them visiting a doctor or receive other necessary mental and practical support. Let’s hope that the government will immediately initiate an interim solution so that the women still alive would not suffer the fate of those 298 female war victims who already died.


There is urgent need for immediate action!

The fact that this group of female citizens has been ignored by the government for 17 years is indeed shocking, even though the opportunity to help them has existed every day. Their human rights have been violated in the worst imaginable manner – by their own government’s failure to help the female war victims. The officials have added unnecessary torture to these people by continually postponing dealing with their issues and they don’t seem to understand the damage they have been causing.

Yet again I urge the minister of social welfare and the government to immediately implement an interim solution of 500 Euro/month war pension to each of these 423 victims until the appointed commission decides on their future fate. Since the first meeting for this commission is scheduled only next year, it is clear to me that the eventual report and results from the commission that could benefit this most vulnerable group is in the distant future. As far as I know, no deadline has been set and hundreds of families are suffering while members of the commission spend time in endless discussions. I emphasize the word ‘endless’ because it has been 17 – seventeen – years and nothing has been done other than the unending assurances of a solution that is still yet to come.

This letter started and ended by reminding You, minster, the government and the leaders of society with the words of Elie Wiesel that any society, people or country that is indifferent to the suffering among its own, will eventually cause its own downfall.


Josef Martinsen