Nicole Slezak

Nicole Slezak (Kosovo Women’s Network): Nicole received her BA in communication studies and political science from the University of California, Los Angeles In 2007. During this time she studied abroad in the Czech Republic on a National Security Education Program scholarship. At the time of her fellowship, Nicole was studying for a Master’s Degree in Security Studies with a focus on International Security at Georgetown University.

Article for KWN Newsletter

08 Jun

Here is the article covering the documentary film, “Women, the Forgotten Face of War” that will be published in the KWN’s newsletter:

On 4 June at the Oda Theatre, filmmakers Susan Muska and Greta Olafsdottir presented their documentary, “Women, the Forgotten Face of War”, with the support of the Kosova Women’s Network (KWN). The documentary narrates the stories of Sevdie Ahmeti, Ardiana, Brita, Ema, Aferdita, Nafie, Tatiana, Kada and Kosovare Kelmendi. It opens with footage from RTV21 during the war in 1999. A group of women, including Sevdie Ahmeti, are attempting to bring bread to members of a refugee camp when they are stopped by the police. Their path is blocked by the policemen who tell the women that what they are doing is illegal and they have fifteen minutes to return to their starting position. With great poise and barely concealed contempt, Sevdie states, “They are afraid even of women with bread.”

The documentary focuses on rape, but also explores the effects that the war and the loss of family members had on women. For example, Kada lost her husband, son and daughter in law. She became head of the household and experienced immense difficulty raising and supporting her family. Nafie struggled to gain her family’s recognition as she sought to attend the university. After their acceptance of her academic endeavors, she then worried about failing in school and disappointing her father. Ema and Brita were separated from their families while in the refugee camp and Brita had seen her father taken away by the Serb police. Thereafter, Brita supported her family until her father returned home. Ardiana was torn as to whether she should return home to Kosovo or begin her life anew elsewhere. Kosovare Kelmendi lost her father (a famous human rights lawyer assassinated by the Serb secret police) and two brothers on the first night that NATO began bombing. She therefore entered her father’s profession to continue protecting the human rights of others.

The documentary also explores the issue of rape as a weapon that was used against women during the war. Sevdie explains that in this instance, women were the targets and rape was the methodology for conducting war. The Serbs aimed to “destroy the substance of society,” and therefore targeted women and children—a gross violation of the Geneva Convention due to their non-combatant status. The manner in which the Serbs raped women and the atrocities they committed against pregnant women have left deep psychological and physical scars. Aferdita admits that she still has not healed—that it is a myth that one will ever be healed because the scenes from that day will live with one forever. However, each of these women conveys a message of strength and they have lived to tell their story and empower other women. This resilience comes from the fact that women and children truly are “the substance of society”. Had these women relinquished hope then the Serb war criminals would have achieved their goal. While many war criminals (such as Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic) have not been brought to justice, these women fought on and sought to help others because they refused to let their society be destroyed.

Posted By Nicole Slezak

Posted Jun 8th, 2007

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