Saturday, October 23, 2010
Angelina Jolie's controversial film divides Bosnian rape victims | World news | The Observer
The star's debut as a director has sparked fierce controversy over who has the right to tell the story of Serbian rape camps
Peter Beaumont in Sarajevo
guardian.co.uk, Saturday 23 October 2010 22.19 BST
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Angelina Jolie shares Easter eggs with Bosnian women on a visit as a goodwill ambassador for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees last April. Photograph:
It is thought to be one of the locations where Angelina Jolie would like to direct her debut film, dealing in part with the experience of a Muslim woman who was a victim of the notorious rape camps. The film has provoked a bitter battle over who has the right to interpret one of the conflict's dark episodes – and how. The dispute has even split groups that speak for rape survivors.
What started as a vague rumour that Jolie intended to depict a love affair between a Serb rapist and his Muslim victim has come to represent much more: a fierce debate over the political and social influence of war victims' groups in a still troubled society.
It has seen the country's culture minister, Gavrilo Grahovac, withdraw Jolie's permission to film before being forced a few days later into an embarrassing climbdown.
The scandal has dominated TV news and ordinary conversation – with many backing Jolie. On Thursday the country's leading political weekly magazine, Dani, dedicated 16 pages to the affair, with a picture of Jolie above the acid-eaten words "Welcome to Sarajevo".
Bakira Hasecic, a rape victim and the head of the Association of Women Victims of War, is one of those with the strongest objections to Jolie's film. Her voice – Hasecic's critics say – has had undue influence in Bosnian politics. She argues that any depiction of a relationship between a Serb rapist and his victim would be offensive.
Not all rape victims support her. Enisa Salcinovic, who was raped in a camp in Foca, split with Bakira in 2006 and now heads the women's section of the Association of Concentration Camp Victims. "Fifty per cent of the victims who called me after the row over the film escalated told me they do not support Bakira," she says.