Declaration of the Interreligious Council on denouncing stigmatization of survivors of sexual violence in Bosnia and Herzegovina, by which we, the undersigned religious representatives

3 July 2017

On the occasion of 19 June, the International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict, the importance of the position of survivors of sexual violence during the conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Interreligous Council hereby issues

Declaration of the Interreligious Council on denouncing stigmatization of survivors of sexual violence in Bosnia and Herzegovina, by which we, the
undersigned religious representatives

Recall the importance of influence that churches and religious communities have on our society today;

Stress that crimes against humanity are contrary to the interpretations of all religions;

Rely on the joint Peacebuilding Platform, the promotion of trust, dialogue and cooperation of all peoples;

Express respect for all victims of war;

Recall 19 June, the International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict;

Condemn sexual violence as one of the most severe crimes committed in conflict;

Express concern over the fact that some survivors of sexual violence in conflict are facing condemnation and rejection by their families, communities and society as a whole;

Express hope for the readiness of the wider community to provide support and understanding for the survivors of sexual violence,

Stress the need for constructive cooperation between state institutions, civil society, international organizations, churches and religious communities in order to improve the status of survivors in Bosnia and Herzegovina today,

Welcome readiness of the media to raise awareness of the status of survivors of sexual violence in conflict in society today,

Recognize and encourage the key role young people can play in their local communities in reducing the rejection and condemnation of the survivors;

Stress the important role that civil society has played in all previous years in the efforts to improve the position of survivors of sexual violence in conflict;

Recognize and establish that men are also survivors of sexual violence in conflict and that all ethnic communities were affected by this crime;

Appreciate the importance of public support for the survivors of sexual violence by the entire society, the inseparable part of which are the churches and religious communities;

Recognize the necessity of eliminating social condemnation and stigmatization of survivors of sexual violence in conflict, and therefore:

1. We invite all citizens, local communities and public institutions to refrain from discriminating, rejecting, restraining and stigmatizing survivors of sexual violence in conflict;
2. We remind citizens of the importance of accepting those who need help;
3. We recommend the improvement and availability of all services that the survivors need – health and psychosocial care, justice and economic empowerment
4. We encourage survivors to access services established for them in public institutions;
5. We express the readiness of our churches and religious communities to assist and express their support against the stigmatization of survivors of sexual violence in accordance with their teachings;
6. We seek further support from the international community in preventing intergenerational transmission of trauma;
7. We point out that perpetrators of these crimes should find the way of repentance,
8. We recommend establishing innovative partnerships between all public stakeholders and citizens so as to eliminate the causes of stigmatization, rejection and condemnation of survivors;
9. We invite religious officials (imams and priests) in all local communities to be the voice against stigmatization of survivors and to actively fight against condemnation and rejection of survivors;
10. We express the need for further support to the work of churches and religious communities in the empowerment of survivors of sexual violence in conflict;
11. We emphasize the willingness of our churches and religious communities to use their capacities in order to improve the quality of life of survivors, through interreligious dialogue;
12. We recall the importance of the prominent role of governmental structures and public institutions in providing care, protection and justice for survivros of sexual violence in conflict;
13. We remain committed to this issue.