March 26, 2015 / 11:54 AM / 4 years ago

After film, Bosnian woman agrees to meet son born of wartime rape

SARAJEVO (Reuters) - A Bosnian woman has agreed to meet the son she bore as the result of wartime rape after having read of a film made about the now 22-year-old man and his search for his biological parents, the film director said on Thursday.

Director Semsudin Gegic said the woman, a Muslim Bosniak who lives in the United States, had called him after she saw a Reuters article published on Tuesday about the premiere of Gegic’s film in Bosnia.

“This has taken me by such surprise,” Gegic told Reuters. “She called me from the United States and said she was ready to meet Alen and agreed that I can film their encounter.”

Gegic quoted her as having told him: “I don’t want any sin on my soul.”

Alen Muhic’s mother was repeatedly raped by a Bosnian Serb soldier early in Bosnia’s 1992-95 war, and gave birth to a boy she abandoned. She testified as a protected witness at a trial and her name cannot be published.

Gegic’s second documentary film about Muhic, “An Invisible Child’s Trap”, documents his painful bid to track down and meet his parents, a quest that had ultimately proved fruitless.

The film confronts the stigma still surrounding Bosnians born of wartime rape, a war crime that up to 30,000 women are believed to have been subjected to during the Bosnian war.

The film was premiered on Monday in Muhic’s hometown of Gorazde in eastern Bosnia.

It shows Muhic, who was adopted, visiting his mother’s sister, who tells him how his mother suffered because of the rape and that she was unable to see him.

Muhic confirmed that his mother had called and left her number, but that they did not speak directly. He said she had offered to meet him in Bosnia in May.

“I have not called her yet,” he told Reuters. “I didn’t expect that she would contact me so soon after the film, but I will certainly meet her.”

“I think it will definitely be beneficial to see her after all that happened.”

According to a Bosnian association for women raped in wartime called “Women - The Victims of War”, 62 Bosnians are recorded by the authorities as having been born of wartime rape.

In the documentary film, Muhic’s biological father is shown in 2007 being convicted of rape but later released on appeal, conditional on having to meet Muhic if requested. Muhic does so, but his father fails to turn up at the agreed meeting and has to date avoided any contact.

Editing by Matt Robinson, Michael Roddy and Ralph Boulton

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