Women, War & Peace: I Came To Testify
Airs Tuesday, October 11, 2011 at 11 p.m. on KPBS TV
Originally published October 10, 2011 at 12:32 p.m., updated September 28, 2012 at 12:21 p.m.
WOMEN, WAR & PEACE is a bold five-part PBS television series challenging the conventional wisdom that war and peace are men’s domain. The vast majority of today’s conflicts are not fought by nation states and their armies, but rather by informal entities: gangs and warlords using small arms and improvised weapons. The episodes are "I Came to Testify," "Pray the Devil Back to Hell," "Peace Unveiled," "The War We Are Living" and "War Redefined."
The series reveals how the post-Cold War proliferation of small arms has changed the landscape of war, with women becoming primary targets and suffering unprecedented casualties. Yet they are simultaneously emerging as necessary partners in brokering lasting peace and as leaders in forging new international laws governing conflict.
Do Women See Things That Men Don’t?
Imagine you’re a young woman from a small village in Bosnia. You’ve witnessed horrors most people could never even imagine, and you’ve been asked to fly half way across the continent to testify before an international court. You may need some convincing, and certainly coaching. Our guest Wendy Lobwein has spent a career helping people who testify in war crimes trials. Listen to the interview
Learn More About Bosnia
Links to more information about the country and the groundbreaking trials in the Hague.
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With depth and complexity, WOMEN, WAR & PEACE spotlights the stories of women in conflict zones from Bosnia to Afghanistan and Colombia to Liberia, placing women at the center of an urgent dialogue about conflict and security, and reframing our understanding of modern warfare.
"I Came to Testify" - When the Balkans exploded into war in the 1990s, reports that tens of thousands of women were being systematically raped as a tactic of ethnic cleansing captured the international spotlight.
This is the moving story of how a group of 16 women who had been imprisoned and raped by Serb-led forces in the Bosnian town of Foca broke history’s great silence – and stepped forward to take the witness stand in an international court of law. Their remarkable courage resulted in a triumphant verdict that led to new international laws about sexual violence in war.
Now, as Bosnia is once again in the headlines with the capture of Bosnian Serb wartime general Ratko Mladic, the women agree to speak for the first time since then, on condition that we keep their identities hidden for their protection.
“Witness 99,” who was held at gunpoint for a month with dozens of other women in a sports hall in the center of town remembers: “We were treated like animals. But that was the goal: to kill a woman’s dignity.”
Returning to Bosnia 16 years after the end of the conflict, "I Came to Testify" also explores the chasm between this seismic legal shift and the post-war justice experienced by most of Bosnia’s women war survivors.