Dozens of thousands of women and girls were raped during the 1992-95 Bosnian war, according to some estimates, and it is believed that a number of children who were born as a result of that crime goes up to 4,000. They call themselves forgotten children of the war.
Ajna Jusic is one of them. She was born in September 1993 in a safe house in the central Bosnian town of Zenica. Ajna’s mother was a victim of a rape during the Bosnian war. She was only 22-year-old then.
“I was the first baby who was born in Medica in 1993. My mum found a shelter there after everything she survived. We spent a few years there when my mum decided to return to her home-town Zavidovici,” Ajna recalls.
Her childhood was not pleasant, she said. Her school days were not pleasant either.
Ajna’s biggest trouble was a gap in her birth certificate where father’s name usually comes. She had none.
“When I got enrolled in the school they asked me about my father’s name. I said I didn’t know, that he died. Then I saw my mum running away. She took the documents and told me to wait in front of the school. It looked strange,” said then 14-year-old Ajna, who decided to search for the truth about her origin.
She was in high school for less than a year when she found documents from the Medica safe house, which unveiled the truth about her past.
“It wasn’t easy for me, my whole life changed in five minutes. Everything has disappeared at that moment. I was silent for nine months until I had to search for a psychologist’s help,” said Ajna, adding that it took a few years before she and her mother could speak openly about everything that had happened.
“Our relationship became much better. Now we’re carrying that burden together, and we have an enormous help – my stepfather,” she added.
Bosnian authorities never issued a single document that would treat the children who were born as a result of the wartime rape crime.
“We have problems with documents. (…) My all documents say Ajna, blank, Jusic. That blank draws a lot of attention,” Ajna said.
She is not interested in meeting her biological father.
“I could look for him and find him, but my mum is a happy woman today. It took over 20 years for her to be healthy and happy. Any search might destroy her happiness,” said the girl.
Ajna lives in Sarajevo today, she obtained a degree in psychology and is an activist for the Forgotten Children of War association.
According to her, the association has 15 active members but there are up to 60 inactive members across the country.
Ajna calls the women and girls who were raped during the war – heroes.
“They are still the women who are ashamed of themselves. Let’s show them they have nothing to be ashamed of,” she concluded.