During that conflict, sexual violence was used as a weapon and an estimated 20,000 Bosnian Muslim women were raped.
Milicevic says that present-day violence against women has to be understood in relation to the social and political changes that took place during and after the war.“Men took on the role of fighters, protectors and leaders in public and political life, while women were relegated to the domestic sphere,” said Milicevic.
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Sixty percent of Croatians between 16 and 19 years of age have experienced some form of violence in a romantic relationship, according to a 2004 survey by the same organization that created the booklet, the Center for Education, Counseling and Research, in Zagreb, Croatia.
“Women’s high unemployment rates have further made them vulnerable to violence.”Joblessness may prevent women from leaving abusive relationships, and can put them at risk of being trafficked or forced into prostitution.
According to government statistics, in 2006, 35 percent of Bosnian women were employed.
Surveys conducted in 20 by local nongovernmental organizations have found that between one-third and two-thirds of women in Croatia and Bosnia have experienced some sort of abuse from their partners.
In addition, a 2003 study by the World Health Organization reported that 23 percent of women in Serbia have suffered physical violence at the hands of an intimate partner.“The violence that exists in everyday life, that young people see at home and in society, gets replicated in adolescent relationships,” said Jadranka Milicevic, project manager in CARE International’s office in Sarajevo, Bosnia.