Janet Rabin

Janet Rabin (Women in Black from Serbia): Janet’s love of Slavic and Balkan culture was sparked by a summer school Russian class that she took in elementary school. She received her undergraduate degree in International Relations and French at Mount Holyoke College. As a student she spent a month studying at the Central Institute for Higher Tibetan studies in Sarnath, India. After living and working for a year in Edmonton, Canada, Janet returned to her hometown of Tucson, AZ to work as Community Outreach Coordinator at the International Rescue Committee. Here she worked with refugees from Bosnia, Russia, Somalia, Sudan, Liberia, and Iraq. At the time of her fellowship, Janet was a Master's student at Georgetown University concentrating in International Development. After her fellowship, Janet wrote: "This was my first time being part of an activist movement, and it was an invaluable opportunity to gain perspective on the nature and interaction of concepts I usually deal with in a much more abstract fashion.”

Confronting the Past Part II: Prijedor

05 Aug

One of Women in Black’s main philosophies and practices is “Confronting the Past – A Feminist Approach.” I got another first-hand lesson about what this means a few weeks ago.

A day after the world learned that Radovan Karadzic had been apprehended, I got on a bus with the Women in Black to go to Prijedor, a region in the northwestern part of Bosnia, in Republika Srpska. We were going to a memorial service for the victims of an “unrecognized genocide.” During the war, Bosnian Serb forces created three concentration camps in the region of Prijedor: Omarksa, Trnopolje, and Keraterm. Thousands of Bosnian Muslims and Bosnian Croats were imprisoned, tortured, raped, and killed in these camps. There are many places like Prijedor, that don’t have the infamous ring of “Srebrenica,” but that were scenes of war crimes all the same.

Appropriately miserable weather accompanied this commemoration, just as it did at Srebrenica – although this time it was not hot, but raining and surprisingly cold for July.

While we were there, we stayed with a Bosnian Women’s association. They had first come together as a mutual assistance organization when they were living as refugees in Croatia. When the women returned home, they continued their service to the community. After the memorial service, when we returned soaking wet, our hosts gave us warm, dry sweaters and stockings to change into. As we drank some of the most delicious Turkish-style coffee I’ve ever had, the women talked. As usual, I understood only a tiny percentage of what was being said; but I could tell that the Bosnian women were talking, and the Serbian women were listening. As our hosts’ eyes filled with tears, I knew that they were talking about their lost friends and relatives, whose pictures adorned the walls of the dining room across the hall. I was witnessing the feminist approach to confronting the past in action.

To me this is the most important aspect of Women in Black’s activism. They condemn all war crimes committed by everyone. And they do it not only through political actions and publications, but also on a personal, relational level. It is no longer a division between nations or ethnicities, but a division between people who desire peace, and those who have sought to destroy it. A division between civilians, women, children, elderly people– and those who persecuted them. I see this as a much more reasonable way of categorizing people. This is not the sort of relativization that leads to saying “Well, all sides committed atrocities, so what can be done about it?” And it is equally not the sort of logic of victimization that ascribes all the guilt to the others. A civilian is a civilian, not a Serb, Croat, or Bosniak. People are made innocent or guilty by their actions, not their ethnicity. Embodying this and living it on a personal level, as the Women in Black and their partners in the Balkans do, is one of the hardest and also one of the most critical steps toward reconciliation and peace.

Posted By Janet Rabin

Posted Aug 5th, 2008


  • Jodi

    May 17, 2016


    Despina, this is a top 10 UNUSUAL pets. Tree frog belongs to this top. Even you were impressed reading about the tree frog. And how you can say that you don’t have what to do with it? You can expose it and see it cause it looks very befutiaul. Those colors are amazing. Tree frog is indeed part of the top 10 unusual pets.

  • I’m working on The Farmer’s Wife Quilt. My stash doesn’t have taupes so I would love to win a bundle. They are all really pretty. Hmm….think I know what to put on my quilt shopping list. Thanks for the opportunity to win.

  • Blimey! That was a blast from the past. My mum had those little forks and the hairdryer. I can remember her sitting under that cap before a night out. xxx

  • As a part of the elucidation of his climate change policy, the McCain camp has opened a “Go Green” section of his campaign store. For those of you whose newborns have already outgrown those Ronald Reagan ‘Trickle-Down Diaper Covers’ that were hand-me-downs from your older cousin, you can consider wrapping your newest litle neo-cons in the soft organic cotton of the John McCain ‘Onesie.’

  • Interesting and difficult challenge. Great that you and he (your son) know that he is talented and valued.But back to the teacher. Perhaps an amiable chat, acknowledging your son’s idiosyncrasy (if that’s an ok way of putting) and appreciating the teacher’s efforts, might disarm any battle of wills building up from the teacher’s side. Perhaps then he’ll be able to relax about the situation and not give up, but be more philosophical about the situation. I suppose I’m talking about managing the teacher.

  • Awesome Angela! Tell Mr. Capitalist that Kennedy and Prince Charles also had wives that stole the limelight from them, so he’s in good company.Was just commenting yesterday how great it is when I “meet” the spouses of people I read and find them interesting and fun.

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    November 14, 2016


    Hi Patrick,Could you please send me some info on Option 2: the Gym Instructor course ie start dates for weekend/evening classes and separate syllabus for the gym instructor part if possible.Thanks,John

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    November 24, 2016


    Müssen Sie wirklich? Sie könnten auch einfach vernünftig bleiben, Unsinnigkeiten von Heiligen Vätern als solche bezeichnen, und weiter Schweinsbraten essen und ein Vierterl Wein dazu trinken.Und vor Ort Flagge zeigen. Und u.U. ehrenvoll untergehen (das Risiko kann ich Ihnen nicht abnehmen), statt als opportunistischer Konvertit bei der Transformation in den Scharia-Staat mitzuwirken.

  • Assemble members of my family on New Year then use the macaroons to apologize for the twelve biggest personal mistakes of the past year then have the ‘victim’ eat one after each confession – baliktad ng swallowing my pride

  • I would gift it to my dad. He is such an awesome dad and loves wine. After he retired he always wanted to travel and visit some vineyards….but due to family issues, he has not been able to. He would love this so much!

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  • name-cards

    June 4, 2017


    I’m saying the picture doesn’t have proportional legs, at least It’s from a thread where he was bashing SS as a shit program due to his

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