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Thursday, 22 February, 2001, 18:15 GMT
The nightmare of Foca
Foca's streets in 1992
Foca: a nightmare of sexual slavery and torture
When the Bosnian town of Foca, south-east of Sarajevo was overrun by Bosnian Serb forces in April 1992, it was the beginning of a horrific nightmare for its inhabitants.

Local Muslim men and women were rounded up and divided into separate camps, with many of the women being detained in the sports hall, classrooms of the high school or taken to soldiers' own flats.


I think for the whole of my life, all my life, I will feel the pain that I felt then

Muslim rape victim
These were to become rape camps, where women suffered systematic violent and sexual attacks.

Women, including girls as young as 12, were forced into sexual slavery for the occupying soldiers.

They were selected for nightly gang-rapes and sexual torture and women were sometimes assaulted by up to 10 men at a time.

Many of the women have been left with permanent gynaecological damage or have become infertile.

"I remember he was very forceful. He wanted to hurt me," said one of Foca's victims as she gave testimony to the Hague war crimes tribunal.

"I think for the whole of my life, all my life, I will feel the pain that I felt then," said another, who was 15 at the time.

'A closed dark place'

When the Serbs entered the town, around half of Foca's 40,000 inhabitants were Muslims.

After the war, few were left and the town was renamed Srbnje. It remains, said a Human Rights Watch report, a "closed dark place".

Rape was widespread during the Bosnian war and seen as one of the tools of ethnic cleansing.

Tens of thousands of people, mainly Muslim women and girls, are believed to have been sexually attacked during the war which lasted from 1992-1995.

Fear of rape caused Muslim families to flee from the advancing Serbs, while rape also forced Muslim women to have Serbs' babies.

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See also:

22 Feb 01 | Europe
Bosnian Serbs convicted of rape
20 Mar 00 | Europe
Bosnian rape camp trial opens
21 Jul 00 | Europe
Bosnian war criminal loses appeal
10 Jan 01 | Europe
Milosevic trial: Home or away?
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