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A joint Manual of the Inter-religious Council in Bosnia and Herzegovina for members of the clergy working with survivors of conflict related sexual violence

13 December 2018

Sarajevo, December 13, 2018 A special publication of the Interreligious Council in BiH, „ joint Manual of the Inter-religious Council in Bosnia and Herzegovina for members of the clergy working with survivors of conflict related sexual violence ", was presented at Gazi Husrev-bey Library in Sarajevo today. In addition to supporting survivors of sexual violence in the war, many religious officials in B&H have dedicated themselves to mobilizing local communities to actively participate in fighting stigmatization of the mentioned population. This manual, the first of its kind on a global level, is the result of the joint efforts of experts representatives from the four traditional religious communities. It represents the continuation of cooperation between the Interreligious Council of B&H and the UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund in B&H, which began in 2017 by adopting the Joint Declaration of the Interreligious Council in Bosnia and Herzegovina on alleviating of stigmatization sexual violence survivors during the war.

- The issue of CRSV is not a thing of the past – its impacts live on as accumulated trauma that is also being transferred to next generations. UNFPA sees work on CRSV also as a commitment to the future as sexual violence during the war, and in peacetime exist in a continuum. This is why UNFPA is proud to have partnered with the IRC in 2017, supporting the adoption of the landmark Declaration of the Inter-religious Council in Bosnia and Herzegovina on the Suppression of the stigmatization of Survivors of CRSV, as well as the promotion of this Manual, said Dr. Doina Bologa, UNFPA Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina.

As stated in the Manual, representatives of the four religious communities in B&H agreed that "religious officials are in a good position to directly influence the awareness of the social community about the seriousness of stigma, as well as the need for stigmatized survivors of conflict related sexual violence not to fall under the burden of prejudice and human negligence and not to fall into self-stigmatization, from which is more difficult to reintegrate into society.”

The support for Interreligious Council in its efforts to reduce the stigmatization of survivors of sexual violence in war is provided by the UK Embassy in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

- Sexual violence during the war is a physical wound, and stigma a scar of a society that, if not treated, becomes a stumbling block for this, and every next generation. After the adoption of the Declaration, condemning the stigmatization of persons who survived sexual violence in the war, today the Interreligious Council of Bosnia and Herzegovina also issues a Manual for religious officials working with survivors. These documents show that religious communities and their leaders in B&H go ahead of all others in the world in condemning the stigmatization of survivors and find ways to get closer and help them in the most appropriate way. It was our great pleasure to support the IRC in this very important issue for the Government of Great Britain, said Matthew Field, the British ambassador to BiH.