Women Of Croatia’s Homeland War

Today, 8 March, marks the International Women’s Day! May it be a happy one to all the women of the world and as far as Croatian women are concerned my mind is turned to those who endured and survived with dignity the most horrendous of fates a woman (a human being) can endure. I turn to and bow the women that stood out and stand out as heroines of a nation (independent Croatia) created despite the brutal aggression, rape, ethnic cleansing, genocide … that swept across Croatia in the early 1990’s with only one intent: eradicate Croat lives, humiliate Croat lives … just because they are Croat and want freedom from communist totalitarian regime!

I also turn to the many Croatian women who left their stamp of truth, freedom and dedication to independence in many ways during the years of Croatia’s Homeland War and beyond.

These women of modern-day Croatia are truly inspiring!

Mothers of those who gave their lives for Croatia’s freedom

Kata Soljic (Vukovar, 1922 – 2008): Fondly called as the mother of courage.

Kata Soljic

Kata Soljic (click on photo to enlarge)

I am Kata Soljic, a Croat, a mother from Vukovar. I am 79 years old, I gave birth to and reared six children, four sons and two daughters. My four sons and my son-in-law lost their lives in 1991 for freedom and for the defense of the Croatian Homeland from the Serb aggressor in this Homeland War. My four innocent brothers perished by the hands of the same enemy during World War II, and my husband survived by a miracle. I have not completed any schooling. I can barely sign my own name. Life has not caressed me. And, hence, I have learned and am still learning the highest of life’s lessons and that is the lesson of love and sacrifice for those close to me and for my family,”  (Kata Soljic, 2001)

Women who were at the forefront of caring for the wounded

Dr Vesna Bosanac, a paediatrician and the legendary medical director of Vukovar hospital during the Croatian Homeland War.

dr Vesna Bosanac

dr Vesna Bosanac (click on photo to enlarge)

A witness to Serb atrocities in Vukovar, a witness who invested all her human strength to save as many lives as humanly possible amidst the genocidal madness of Serb aggression (including by Serb-led Yugoslav People’s Army) in Vukovar 1991 that saw incessant artillery attacks, the destruction of ambulances, the killing of hospital staff and patients, and the wounding of doctors and nurses who were helping people wounded in the shelling and the massacre of more than 200 people that took place in November 1991 at nearby Ovcara farm.

According to data from the Vukovar Hospital, 3,470 wounded people were treated in the Vukovar Hospital during the Serbian military aggression on the town, and more than 2,500 operations were performed in the hospital at the time.

Women – Victims of war crime of rape

During the Serb aggression in 1990’s Croatia violating women became an open and widespread weapon of war of aggression. Sadly this war crime of rape had been ignored for many years, perpetrators walked the streets freely and victims suffered, dying a bit day in and day out. According to a Council of Europe, more than 20,000 women were raped during the Balkan conflict, and many of these occurred in Croatia, while others to the majority occurred in Bosnia and Herzegovina with the victims being Bosniak (Muslim) and Croat women. Unfortunately, the horrors did not stop at rape. Of these women, most were gang-raped by Serb rebels or Serbs belonging to the Serb-led Yugoslav People’s Army, some were forced into sexual slavery and forced impregnated often by armies and paramilitary groups.

The silence regarding the widespread rape of Croat women during the war in Croatia lasted too long and some organisations claimed that rape did not occur. Marija Sliskovic has in the past few years courageously begun to point to the problem of war rape with her book “Women of Vukovar” (Žene Vukovara) and in her latest “Sunny” (Sunčica) in which she published testimonies of 14 raped women from Vukovar and one man. These efforts have received support from the Parliament, the President’s Office, and the International Criminal Tribunal for former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and other UN organisations. A rise in social compassion for the victims is evident, alongside a growing frustration that so much time that has passed without tangible remedies. The war in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina brought the issue of rape to the forefront forcing international recognition of rape as a weapon of war and a violation on a multitude of levels. Despite this awareness and support the practice of ignoring rape or treating it as a last priority for prosecutors of war crimes still continues. The victims are still forced into fighting for justice at all levels and my admiration goes to them in endless bounds.
And so I pay tribute here to Marija Sliskovic, a tireless activist for the rights of rape victims in Croatia and some of the women who have had the courage to finally speak out about the horror of rape, that war crime perpetrated against them in the concentration camp during the war by Serbs:

Marija Sliskovic

Marija Sliskovic (click on photo to enlarge)

Ruzica Erdelji

Ruzica Erdelji (click on photo to enlarge)

Snjezana Maljak

Snjezana Maljak (click on photo to enlarge)

Durdica Pankas

Women who cared about the well-being of war-orphaned children

Ankica Tudjman

Ankica Tudjman (click on photo to enlarge)

Ankica Tudjman. The wife of Croatia’s first president, dr Franjo Tudjman, who from December 1991 championed the worldwide charitable action under the organisation “Save the Children of Croatia” (later re-named into Humanitarian Foundation for Children of Croatia) that sought sponsors for Croatian war-orphaned children. By December 1992 the action secured sponsorship (annual/monthly financial support via individual bank accounts set up for each orphan) for 2,160 children of killed Croatian Homeland War veterans. By 1996 the action had 4,319 children of killed veterans under its sponsorship program in addition to hundreds of children of 100% war-invalids. Her charity still goes strong today as she in her advanced age holds tight to her determination to help children in need for as long as she lives. I wish Ankica a very special day on this day of March the 8th!

23,080 Croat women who actively participated in the Homeland War, assisting in the defence against aggression

Croat women in Homeland War

Croat women in Homeland War (click photo to enlarge)

Many Croat women who worked tirelessly from the diaspora on humanitarian aid to Croatia and lobbying the world for Croatia’s independence

Croatian women rally against aggression  in Croatia - Sydney, Australia January 1993

Croatian women rally against aggression
in Croatia – Sydney, Australia January 1993 (click photo to enlarge)

Many women who worked as humanitarian aid workers caring for over 800,000 (Croat and Muslim) refugees in Croatia during the war under often dire, always treacherous and difficult circumstances.

1992 Croatia - Croat and Muslim refugees

1992 Croatia – Croat and Muslim refugees (click photo to enlarge)

November 1991 Croat refugees

November 1991 Croat refugees (click photo to enlarge)

Women who followed a career path that would enhance the path to Croatia’s democracy of tomorrow

Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic

Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic (click photo to enlarge)

Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic commenced her career for Croatia in wartime 1993 at the ministry of science and technology, then moved to foreign affairs office and was deputy minister then head of North America unit from where she went to Canada at the Croatian Embassy as adviser and minster adviser. In 2003 she was elected into the Croatian Parliament when she became Croatia’s minister of foreign affairs and European integration until 2008. From then until 2011 she was the Croatian Ambassador in Washington and from July 2011 the assistant secretary general of NATO for public diplomacy – I trust that Kolinda will be the first woman president of Croatia very soon, Certainly her career path and world diplomacy experience has provided just the right background to lead the modern Croatia into a full democracy. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)

Related Posts on rape as war crime:

https://inavukic.com/2012/03/07/international-womens-day-a-tribute-to-the-courage-of-croatian-women-victims-of-mass-rapes/

https://inavukic.com/2013/08/21/croatia-howling-for-rape-war-crimes-justice/

https://inavukic.com/2012/09/08/convicted-serb-rapists-from-vukovar-1991-flee-croatia/

https://inavukic.com/2013/05/03/croatia-stop-listening-to-serbia-listen-to-the-victims-of-her-aggression/

Comments

  1. Happy Women’s Day Ina. I spotted you in there amongst all those other wonderful women. Well done.

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  2. Celebrations of women – well done!

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  3. Let’s honour women not just today, but always. Ina, thank you for your courageous efforts fighting for truth and dignity of Croatia.

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  4. You have brought the true meaning of International Women’s Day.
    Thank you for bringing this to my attention:
    The war in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina brought the issue of rape to the forefront forcing international recognition of rape as a weapon of war and a violation on a multitude of levels. Despite this awareness and support the practice of ignoring rape or treating it as a last priority for prosecutors of war crimes still continues.

    And thank you for this touching tribute to these courageous women. Happy Women’s Day to you and all the women of your country:)

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  5. What a beautiful post about these amazing and inspirational women (you included, Ina). I honor all, whether living or dead. Blessings…

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    • Thank you Theersa – we must always remember the past and who we are so that our future grows and stays better, I believe. Happy Women’s Day to you too!

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  6. To every woman in Croatia… Have a wonderful day and know you are a human gem. Equality for all women.

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  7. Reblogged this on idealisticrebel and commented:
    International women rock.

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  8. Reblogged this on aksharaalu – Best Collections.

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  9. Happy Women’s day .Its essential for women to be part of decision making in any country.l hope peace will prevail in Croatia .jalMich.

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  10. Muy bueno!
    Feliz día amiga!

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  11. Michael Silovic says:

    From Facebook: Very touching tribute to all of our women. Croatian women are some of the finest looking, Intelligent and most steadfast I have ever met in my life.

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  12. Barbara Mea says:

    Ankica Tudjman is a champion and much glory to her and good health and ripe old age. She was not just another First Lady accompanying her husband dr Franjo Tudjman on his political campaigns, she carved out a role for herself, at which she worked very hard – it took an exceptionally diligent person to raise the importance of taking care of orphaned children in those days when much of the diaspora and homeland fundraising was needed for the defense of Croatia against aggression. Those war-orphaned children could have been so easily forgotten were it not for Ankica’s humanity.

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  13. Marija K says:

    Thank you also Ina and to All women of the Homeland War who gave all they had for us to have our freedom today. Thanks be to them and may their March the 8th be joyous and blessed.

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  14. therealamericro says:

    Excellent post!

    God and the women!

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  15. Jackie Saulmon Ramirez says:

    War is a horrible ugly thing; if women ran the world, war would be a thing of the past. 😦 God bless them all.

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  16. without the progress of women, there is no real future for a society

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  17. In a time when fighting for women’s rights means fighting for the right to kill your unborn child, or fighting against an imaginary wage gap or making definitions of rape so loose that regreting consentual sex is deemed rape, it is good to see actual deserving women acknowledged. Thanks Ina, for this article and thank you to to every woman mentioned here and the many, many more who did anything they could to save their families and help soldiers. We should appreciate what they’ve done every day.

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  18. You honor these woman and woman around the world who suffer at the hands of men. Where there is light, like your spotlight, it can be seen and hopefully will become something that no longer takes place, around this world of ours.

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  19. Reblogged this on Living and Lovin.

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  20. Reblogged this on The ObamaCrat™.

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  21. Bolje ikad nego nikad kaze Rumunjski rijec ! 🙂
    Sretan 8 ozjuka svaka ZENA u HRVATSKOJ !!! 🙂 🙂 🙂

    Aliosa.

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    • Thank you Aliosa, yes in Croatia there is also the saying “Better late than never” but good wishes are never late as far as I am concerned – thank you 😀

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  22. A very dynamic post, Ina.

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  23. Ante Saric says:

    You forgot to add to your list the current Minister of Foreign Affairs Vesna Pusic.
    Where would we be without her strength of character that she showed during the Homeland War?
    It was an act of absolute daring and bravery to call a conference of Serbian and Croatian intellectuals together in a bid to thwart war with our Slavic brothers.
    Just as astonishing was her determination not to allow “nationalism” to destroy the “brotherhood and unity” so carefully built and nurtured by our greatest son Josip Broz Tito.
    The fact she has been able to overcome all the intolerance of Christian and conservative Croatia is a inspiration to downtrodden women all over the world.
    Now as Foreign Minister her steely determination to see our Slavic Serb brothers together again with Croatia, only this time in the European Union, is simply astonishing.
    There are simply not enough superlatives to describe the work and career of Vesna Pusic.
    Just as we must look to the valour and heroism of Tito’s partisans as we confront challenging times today in Croatia. So we must follow the lead set by our illustrious Foreign Minister. There is nothing more to say.

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    • I was not aware of that conference you speak of Ante Saric and it would be good if you could give more details such as where and when it was held etc. While Vesna Pusic may be a strong politician she has failed miserably to achieve the Serbs and Serbia accept their guilt in the aggression against Croatia and that to me says a great deal including the fact that such superficial lobby to preserves Tito’s “brotherhood and unity” is a thin as the brotherhood and unity in effect was.

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  24. Ante Saric says:

    Milan Ivkosic is one my favourite columnists in Croatia. He writes for Vecenji List and he is a strident critic (and for good reasons) of the government of Zoran Milanovic.
    He also has no time for the likes of Ivo Josipovic, Slavko Goldstein and Vesna Pusic.
    He sees them basically as a bunch of communists and Yugophiles who hate their own people and country. More importantly, when Croata was in mortal danger, these people played absolutely no part in its defence. Unlike the beautiful, strong women that you Ina so eloquently described above.
    Milan, in some of columns, mentions often how Pusic was organising peace conferences during our war with Serbia. Digging on the internet a little I find that it was true.
    According to the Caspian Forum, at which Pusic was a guest speaker in 2013, she was described as the “founder and director of Erasmus Gilda, non-governmental, non-partisan project for the promotion of cultural democracy from 1993 to 1998. Within the framework of Erasmus Gilda, active until 1998, she organized many panel discussions and debates on controversial issues in the region with a view to encouraging civil initiative in conflict resolution and seeking alternative political solutions in this area.”
    I don’t know about you Ina but it seems strange to me that someone would be organising conferences in a time when your very own nation is in a battle to the death with its mortal enemy. This is a time for Kalashnikovs and not fountain pens.
    People organising these type of events in a time of war are either of unsound mind or traitors. Pure and simple.
    Digging a little more I find that a well known scientist, Dr Ivo Biondic, wrote ERASMUS-GILDA – ZLOČIN ZA PISAĆIM STOLOM. He mentions two conferences in particular. One in Mimara in 1993 and the other in Sarajevo in 1994.
    In Mimara under the title “Serbs and Croats” he goes to say that
    “tadasnji skup je okupio mahom jugoslavenski orijentirane intelektualce s prostora bivše države (Jugoslavije) koji su se iza zatvorenih vrata pitali kako se dogodilo gdje je počelo i zašto je bilo.” (“the meeting brought together mainly Yugoslav oriented intellectuals from the territory of the former state (Yugoslavia) who, behind closed doors, asked how it all began and why it was so”) In addition “kako su se većina govornika trudili, u raznim nijansama IZJEDNAČITI KRIVNJU NA OBJE STRANE.” (“how most of the speakers tried at various levels to equate the guilt of both sides”)
    As for the Sarajevo meeting in 1994 “Na tom je skupu Hrvatska jasno označena kao agresor na drugu državu (uostalom to je Pusićka i javno izrekla u Hrvatskom saboru).” (At that meeting Croatia was clearly branded as an aggressor of another country [besides Pusic had said that clearly in Croatian parliament])
    Wow.
    It should be added that Pusic along with Slavko Goldstein, Chris Cviic, Vlado Gotovac, Ozren Zunec and Ivo Banac wrote a letter to Franjo Tudman seeking his resignation because of his role in BiH. She said this in an interview for the Central European Review in 2000.
    Mesic went one further and attempted to oust Tudman in a coup d’état in 1994.
    It can be safely said that if either Pusic or Mesic succeeded in attempts to remove Tudman from office we would not be talking about a free, independent Croatia. We would have lost the war with Serbia.
    Franjo Tudman was the last stop at the station for the Croatian people. Only he stood between us and total defeat as a people. He snapped victory from the jaws of defeat not because of people like Pusic and Mesic but in spite of them.

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    • Yes Ante Saric – I would never classify Vesna Pusic as a deserving woman of the Homeland War for freedom, for attempts to destroy freedom of Croatia, definitely yes

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  25. Thanks for all your visits=support! wow! we know a famous person!

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  26. Thank you Part Time Monster – much appreciated

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