Women Mobilize Against Serbian Rapes

Christian, Muslim and Jewish women in Southern California have united to publicize the forced impregnation of Bosnian women and to establish a rape crisis shelter in the former Yugoslavia.

More than 14 non-profit organizations have joined the Coalition Against Ethnic Cleansing since the Los Angeles chapters of the American Jewish Congress and the Muslim Women’s League launched the group in December, 1992.

“We want to raise consciousness that rapes against women arc war crimes against humanity,” says Rabbi Sue Levi Elwell, director of the Congress’s Jewish Feminist Center. The Serbs are intentionally impregnating women as one step of their so called ethnic cleansing.

The coalition is collecting donations to send psychological counselors lo the shelter it aims to open in early March. 1993.

“We’ve been urging the six women U.S. senators to take a position and lead a fight to get relief to these women,” says A.J.C.program associate Rebecca Meyer. “We’d like to see President Clinton take the steps to document these crimes, bring the perpetrators to justice and provide effective treatment for the rape survivors.”

The coalition is comprised of such diverse groups as Hillel Student Organizations and the Religious Sisters of Charity of the L.A. Catholic Archdiocese. Congress staff member Meyer advises: create more coalitions, call and write state representatives in addition to the women senators and donate to the Bosnian Rape Relief fund.

Working as a coalition brings added benefits, Elwell says. “Jewish and Muslim women don’t get to work together very often. This has been a wonderful opportunity.”

Nahid Ansari, board member of the Muslim Women’s League, agrees. “All of us see this issue the same way,” she says. “It’s been a very productive joint effort so far.”

More information is available by calling the American Jewish Congress at (213) 651-4601 or the Muslim Public Affairs Council at (213) 383-3443. Tax deductible donations may be sent to Bosnian Rape Relief, c/o American Jewish Congress, 6505 Wilshire Boulevard, Suite 417, Los Angeles, CA 90048. The six women senators can be reached at the following numbers; Barbara Boxer (DCalif.), (202) 224-3841; Carol Mosley Brown (D-Illinois), (202) 224-2854; Nancy Landon Kasselbaum, (R-Kansas), (202) 224-4654; Barbara Mikulski (D Maryland), (202) 224-4654; and Patty Murray (D-Wash.), (202) 224-2621.