Background on Bosnia and Herzegovina:
Over twenty years after the signing of the Dayton Peace Agreement, Bosnia and Herzegovina is still recovering from the devastating war of the 1990s. The bloody war between Bosnian Serbs, Bosnian Croats, and Bosniaks lasted three and a half years and included ethnic cleansing and atrocities against civilians. Although the 1995 Dayton Peace Agreement ended the war that left over 100,000 dead, it also left the country divided into two entities – a Muslim-Croat Federation and the Bosnian Serb Republic. Ethnic and religious tensions continue to simmer and the country suffers from high levels of corruption and unemployment.
While the laws put in place after the war provide some level of protection for women, gender-based violence remains widespread and underreported, often due to the social stigma associated with sexual and domestic violence. One US Army team is bringing long overdue attention to the problem of gender-based violence and giving women the skills they need to defend themselves by offering free women’s self-defense classes in towns across the country.
When the Sarajevo-based US Army Civil Affairs team met with local leaders and NGOs to learn about the needs that existed in the country, they realized that women’s self-defense classes would be of great benefit to the community. Offering the classes, utilizing combatives-certified special operations personnel, including Army Green Berets and Navy SEALs, will raise awareness of domestic violence and sexual assault and give women the skills they need to defend themselves. The classes also provide an opportunity to demonstrate a softer side of the US military.
Because the first four training classes were so successful, the team plans to expand the program to as many as nine training locations in the New Year. The American soldiers and sailors will provide the training, and, with your support, Spirit of America will provide the punching pads and refreshments for receptions after the classes, where participants will have opportunities to share their personal stories and learn more about each other.
Dear Supporters, I’m really excited to tell you about a project I’m working on with a US Army team in Sarajevo to address gender-based violence in Bosnia-Herzegovina. We’ve been able to fund four extremely successful women’s self-defense classes so far. With your help, we can support up to nine more sessions in the coming months. … Continued