Dr Bakira Hasečić

HONORARY DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF LAWS

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Bakira Hasečić is an international activist who has made an outstanding contribution to human rights and the campaign for justice for the women of Bosnia.

In 2003, she established the Association of Women Victims of War to unite and campaign on behalf of women who were raped and sexually abused throughout the Bosnian War. The association works alongside organisations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch to gather evidence and information about war criminals and rapists hiding in Bosnia to help secure their prosecution. It also provides emotional, legal and financial support to the country’s tens of thousands of victims of rape and sexual abuse.

In April 1992, in the early days of the war, Bakira answered a knock at the door of her home in Visegrad. The local police chief, along with 15 other men, entered, placed the family under house arrest, and repeatedly raped Bakira and her eldest daughter.

The war claimed 17 members of Bakira’s family, including her sister who was held captive and repeatedly raped before being killed. A UN Commission of Enquiry report documented that Visegrad has become a centre for rape camps. It is estimated that up to 50,000 women were raped during the genocide and ethnic cleansing. Many of the women held in the rape camps were subsequently murdered or took their own lives.

Bakira’s attacker is serving a life sentence after he was convicted at The Hague and, in 1998, Bakira led a return to Visegrad of some of her fellow survivors. Many will never return to their homes, however, because their aggressors during the period of conflict and ethnic cleansing continue to live there.

In July last year, Bakira spoke in Glasgow at a memorial marking the 22nd anniversary of the genocide at Srebrenica, the worst atrocity on European soil since World War Two. During her visit, she was awarded the prestigious Woman on the Shelf Award by Glasgow Women’s Library.

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