Closing the Gap: Hope and justice to the wartime victims of sexual violence in Croatia

Jul 27, 2015


The work of UNDP Croatia to provide support and compensation to the victims of sexual violence during Homeland War was featured in the report Closing the gap: An overview of UNDP results in gender equality in Europe and the CIS, as one of initiatives that prompted the eradication of sexual and gender-based violence in the region. 

During the Homeland War in Croatia in 1991-95 many women (and some men) were victims of sexual violence perpetrated by enemy forces as an act of war. In the two decades since the war, the needs of the survivors of these crimes have not been adequately addressed.

Therefore, UNDP supported Croatian Government with evidence and legal analysis to draft and adopt „The Law on rights of victims of sexual violence during armed aggresion on Republic of Croatia in Homeland War“ that entered into force in June 2015. 

This is the first law in the region to provide civilian victims of sexual violence in armed conflict with a comprehensive set of reparation measures: medical and psycho-social rehabilitation, financial compensation, legal aid and symbolic acts of reparation. The law enabled the victims to receive a one-off compensation of up to EUR 20.000 depending on the severity of the crime, as well as a monthly allowance of about EUR 320.

UNDP plans to support the Ministry of Veterans’ Affairs to implement mechanisms assessing the eligibility criteria for the status of a survivor of sexual violence in armed conflict.

The law will help to overcome the isolation and neglect that survivors have experienced, to help re-integrate them into society and restore their confidence in the system, while also reshaping social perceptions to ease the stigma and indifference they face. 

The report Closing the Gap: An overview of UNDP results in gender equality in Europe and the CIS outlines the key results achieved by UNDP Country Offices in promoting gender equality in 2014 and the first quarter of 2015. The focus is on adopted approaches, achieved results and successful initiatives. In this period, UNDP has achieved tangible results in different areas: economic empowerment, access to resources and essential services, combating discriminatory social norms, promoting participation in decision-making, and building resilience. 

Moreover, the report also highlights the need for accelerated efforts to overcome the many challenges to gender equality in Europe and CIS through strengthened partnerships with governments, development partners and diverse civil society organizations.