Bakira Hasecic, Head of the Association 'Zene zrtve rata' (Women, Victims of War) received the Glasgow Caledonian University’s honorary degree in the field of Law. She was awarded this degree for her exquisite contribution to human rights and justice for women in Bosnia, through her fight for the rights of raped and sexually abused women.
"The award for this courageous, inspirational woman is in recognition of her fight to bring to justice the many war criminals who subjected Bosnian Muslim women to the most appalling sexual violence, rape and degradation during the war," Professor Pamela Gillies, principal and vice-chancellor of GCU said.
Professor Gillies said it was an enormous privilege that Bakira Hasecic accepted the honorary degree.
"The Association Bakira founded and still leads today has succeeded in giving the many traduced women of the war a voice, companionship, care, and support, as well as bringing the guilty to justice in the courts. This is an ongoing struggle and challenge."
Bakira Hasecic is a Bosniak woman from Visegrad, a town in eastern Bosnia and Herzegovina. In the early days of the Bosnian War, in 1992, she was raped in the Visegrad police station by Bosnian Serb soldiers, members of the Army of Republika Srpska, and then taken elsewhere where she was raped again.
On this occasion, Hasecic said she was proud of the degree, but at the same time disappointed that her fight was not recognized in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
"As one of the thousands of raped women, after many years of fight against impunity of war criminals, I am very proud of the degree from such a strong state university. All surviving victims of rape and sexual abuse deserve this degree, especially those who are members of the Association ‘Women Victims of War’,” she said.
Her fight began more than two decades ago.
“In 1998 I initiated the return to my city of Visegrad and we went there accompanied by international peace-keeping forces and the local police. It was the local police among whom I recognized our rapists and murderers. My revenge then turned to the collection of facts and statements which I then sent to to the Hague Tribunal (the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia) and the investigative institutions in Bosnia,” she adds.
Her only satisfaction are the final verdicts against the perpetrators of crimes. The Association ‘Women, Victims of War’ was established in 2003 and it offers legal protection and financial assistance to the raped and sexually abused women in order to bring crime perpetrators to justice.
The decision to award her with the degree was made last year.