Violence; in all its guises is not an uncommon experience for women in Bosnia and Herzegovina. I have witnessed it many times during various trips when I worked as a journalist or just traveled around.
There are women who suffer violence.
“Oh, she is so going to get beaten now!” the older woman tells me as we sit in a poorly-lit room and, probably to be sure that I understood her correctly, imitates punching moves with her two hands. “She is late to greet him,“ she adds.
Just a second before, a young woman ran outside the room and climbed on the floor above. And just a minute before that, we heard someone loudly entering that same floor. I heard it, the older woman heard it too, but the young one didn’t, at least not in time. Half deaf, she was late to greet her husband and now “oh, she is so going to get beaten”. It seemed so normal to them.
Nothing out of the ordinary.
And there are women for whom every day is filled with watching injustice.
She wakes up every morning and looks through her window to see her neighbour going to work. He says goodbye to his family, climbs on his bicycle and continues down the road. He has a job, family and a good life.
She is all alone in her house. She has no family as both her husband and son were killed during the war. That same neighbour took her son away. “That is where he took my son from my embrace,” she points to the road. Her voice is calm, as if she has retold this story a hundred times. “He was just 15, he was not a soldier. He was just a boy, a tall boy, but just a boy. His screams as they dragged him away from me are still so vivid: “Mum, don’t let them take me! Mum, don’t let them take me!”
When I spoke to her, she was still looking for the remains of her son through countless mass graves that exist in Bosnia and Herzegovina. “I wish my neighbour would only tell me where my son’s body is… I wish I could at least visit his grave.” She tried asking her neighbour, but he remained silent. He even tried to scare her away.
There are girls who are fighting their way to get educated.
Very often they hear: “why would she go to school, she is a girl! She will stay at home and learn to be a good housewife”. And often if they are a minority AND a girl, it is very hard for them to accomplish what they dream of. But they keep dreaming and fighting.
“I wish change would happen faster” one of my female colleagues sighed.
I wish so too.
The story was first published by World Vision.