Women's Court: feminist approach to justice

The first women's court in the territory of Europe, was held in Sarajevo from 7th to 10th May 2015, organized by 10 women's groups from the former Yugoslavia (Mothers’ Movement of the enclaves of Srebrenica and Žepa and the Foundation Cure, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Hercegovina, Center for Women and Peace Studies – Anima, Kotor, Montenegro, Center for Women Victims of War and Center for Women Studies, Zagreb, Croatia, Kosovo Women Network, Pristina, Kosovo, Council for Gender Equality, Skopje, Macedonia, Women’s Lobby, Ljubljana, Slovenia, Center for Women Studies and Women in Black, Belgrade, Serbia).

Women in Black were carriers of program activities of the Women's Court during the five years.

Women's Court was preceded by a press conference (on May 7th). The news conference was held at the Bosnian Cultural Center, and the members of the Organizing Committee of the Women's Court were speaking (Kada Hotic, Stasa Zajovic, Jadranka Milicevic, Ljupka Kovacevic and Rada Boric). The conference also touched the topics such as: the entire process of organizing WC, feminist ethics of care and responsibility to work with the witness, the feminist approach to justice, the effects of WC, the aesthetics of resistance of WC etc.

Women's Court began with a street action Women together for peace. The march took place in the city's main streets, and it was attended by hundreds of women.

In the evening, in the Bosnian Cultural Center was the opening ceremony, at which where members of the Organizing Committee of the Women's Court spoke (Munira Subasic and Stasa Zajovic), as well as our international friends, also members of the International Judicial Council (Charlotte Bunch, Marieme Helie Lucas and Marta Drury).
The artistic-activist theatrical action "Memory - Solidarity - Responsibility" was performed, during which there was also a moment of silence for all the victims of war in the former Yugoslavia, and elsewhere in the world.
There was an opening of exhibition "Remembering - Solidarity - Responsibility", which were consisted of artistic and activist artifacts (photos of street events, theater performances, etc.), which testify to the aesthetics of resistance (anti-war, feminist, anti-militarist) of Woman in a black and collectives of engaged art .

In the Bosnian Cultural Center on the 8th and 9th May five sessions were held - testimonies of women about suffered crimes and injustices, and on the resistance of women.

The testimonies of the witness were divided into five sessions:
- The war against civilians (ethnic / militaristic / GBV) - 11 witnesse
- A woman's body - battlefield (sexual crimes in war) - 4 witnesses
- Military violence and counteraction of women - 7 witnesses
- The ethnic violence – 8 witnesses
- Undeclared war (socioeconomic crimes against women) - 6 witnesses

About these crimes 38 witness were testified - from all countries of former Yugoslavia (Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Slovenia and Serbia). Witnesses spoke of individual experience that reflects the experiences of a large number of women. Those witness passed through the process of organizing the Women's Court, they were actively participatng in the creation of the program and participated in the final selection of the witness – they have become the subjects of the entire process. During this process a strong network of witness for Women's Court was created, it is a solidarity community of women, above and beyond national divisions and borders.

After each session of testimony, associates of WC interpreted it on the basis of the testimony of a woman political, temporal and spatial context of the crime and violence.

In this study 12 associates of WC/ experts were included: Rada Iveković, Vjollca Krasniqi, Renata Jambresic Kirin, Miroslava Malesevic, Snjezana Milivojevic (for war against civilians and ethnic violence) Marijana Senjak i Gabi Miskovski (for sexual violence in war), Stasa Zajovic, Snezana Obrenovic, Bojan Aleksov (for militaristic violence), Tanja Djuric Kuzmanovic and Senka Rastoder (for economic violence), from half of which were involved in working directly in meetings with potential witnesses during the five-year preparation process of organizing the Women's Court.

Within the Women's Court on 8th and 9th of May evening meetings were held "Power of women international solidarity" in which the following people spoke: Naila Ajesh (Gaza, Palestine), Lily Traubman (Women in Black, Israel), Nora Cortinas (Mother of the May Square, Argentina)..

On the last day of the Women's Court, there was the international panel, composed of 7 people.
The international panel of eminent regional legal experts, historians, peace activists (Vesna Rakic Vodinelic, Gorana Mlinarevic, Latinka Perovic, Vesna Terselic) and international (Charlotte Bunch, Diana Otto, Kirsten Campbell) who were imposing recommendations and decisions on the testimony of women according to the feminist model of justice.
Women's Court did not impose criminal sanctions, but what was establish was new forms of criminality: a crime against peace, a political responsibility of states in the former Yugoslavia, especially Serbia, who organized crime, intellectual elites who supported the war, the media fueled the conflict, war profiteers, international institutions did not prevent conflicts ... the text of decisions and recommendations will be available soon to all participants of WC.

During the final session, "Let's go further - always disobedient" all witness, hundreds of participants climbed onto the stage, marking the symbolic creation of history from below, the power of alternative female subjects of a new model of justice, and the demolition of the dominant narratives of the wars in the former Yugoslavia.

Women's Court was followed by artistic program. Engaged artistic collectives (Multimedia Center / Led Art / Art Clinic Novi Sad, Dah Theater, Act Women, Skart, Belgrade), the Group for video activism of Women in Black, as well as individuals (Marija Aranđelovic, Marija Vidic, Jelena Markovic, Vahida Ramujkic and the others). This artistic-activist team, together with the witness, conceived the whole artistic program - exhibitions, stage action, performance during the Women's Court.

Women's Court was attended by over 500 people from all the countries of the former Yugoslavia, but also from Argentina, Algeria, Palestine, Israel, USA, Spain, Italy, Sweden, Austria, Belgium, Great Britain, etc.

About the process of organizing the Women's Court, you can read in the following books, both in Serbian and English. There you will find authoring articles that were sent to us, as participants of WC, but also journalists:
Andrea Oskari Rossini - Italiano
Andrea Oskari Rossini - Serbian
Karima Bennoune - English
Karima Bennoune - Serbian
Marieme Helie Lucas - English
Marieme Helie Lucas - Franch
Marieme Helie Lucas - Spanis
Marieme Helie Lucas - Serbian
Vjollca Krasniqi - English
Vjollca Krasniqi - Serbian
Jelena Čaušević - Serbian
Jasmina Tešanović - English
Jasmina Tešanović - Serbian

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