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Jetmir Idrizi
A public airing.

Photos: The 5,000 dresses that remind Kosovo of its wartime rape

By Hanna Kozlowska

There is no soccer game today in the main stadium of Pristina, the capital of the small nation of Kosovo. In this traditionally male-oriented space, artist Alketa Xhafa-Mripa is drawing attention to women, and symbolically airing the country’s dirty laundry to help raise awareness about rape during the war in Kosovo in the late 1990s.

Today (June 12) marks the 16th anniversary of NATO’s arrival in Kosovo after Serb forces carried out a brutal campaign of ethnic cleansing. Rights organizations estimate that up to 20,000 women were raped during the conflict. An overwhelming majority of the women kept silent about their experiences, fearing public shame and stigmatization.

Xhafa-Mripa, along with other women, including Kosovo’s president, organized clothing drives over the past couple of weeks, during which a number of women came forward, recounting their experiences. Read the story behind the installation here.

(Jetmir Idrizi)
(Jetmir Idrizi)
President Atifete Jahjaga supported the initiative from the very beginning. (Jetmir Idrizi)