Our member, Vive Zene in Bosnia and Herzegovina are finding creative ways to reach survivors of torture in these volatile days. Many of their clients are victims of war crimes having survived torture and sexual abuse. These people are dependent on receiving vital psychological support and counselling. Survivors of torture in Bosnia and Herzegovina are struggling to cope with the stressful situation that the pandemic has imposed on our every day lives. They are dependent on receiving vital psychological support and counselling. Survivors of torture in Bosnia and Herzegovina are struggling to cope with the stressful situation that the pandemic has imposed on us all, but especially on survivors of torture.
A woman wearing a protective face mask comforts an elderly lady. Photo: EPA-EFE/KOCA SULEJMANOVIC
Movement restrictions, quarantine and curfew have worsened the plight of many women already victims of domestic abuse. Many women here are survivors of sexual abuse, rape, and torture during the war from 1992-1995. These women who live in dysfunctional families in these times of self-isolation are at greater risk of violence because the additional stress, frustration and tension that the isolation brings can boost the dysfunctional patterns of behaviour among family members or abusive partners. This can have a re-traumatizing effect on women but also on their children and broader families.
Our member centre Vive Zene is tackling this issue by scaling their psychological phone and online counselling. Knowledge is key, especially during COVID-19 and so they are also organising four training modules for students at the Faculty of Medicine and Psychology. The students will together with staff from Vive Zene provide counselling on the phone. The aim of the training is to provide information and knowledge on what crises support means and how to conduct it online. Staff are continuing to provide counselling via Skype to the clients that were already enrolled in a therapeutic programme prior to the pandemic. For those in the most dire and socioeconomic situations, Vive Zene have organised aid to survivors through food and sanitary parcels. With regular contact with beneficiaries, the community, Vive Zene continue to exchange information with other centres, conducting needs assessments and scaling their support to survivors of torture.
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For more information about Vive Zene, see here.
This story is published in conjunction with June 26, The United Nations International Day in Support of Victims of Torture. In honor of June 26 we will be highlighting the collective efforts of our movement to reach survivors of torture during the pandemic.