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Safeta
Zainab Salbi
IraqGALLERYCONVERSATION
“In case it is one of them, I want them to see that I am still alive, that they did not kill me, neither body nor soul, nor will they...”
Now 36, she remembers a time when she was a young and in love and so beautiful her husband was nervous about the looks other men gave her. When she became pregnant, she remembers thinking, her life was “perfect.” Then Serbian forces attacked Bosniak settlements, burning and looting homes in a town where Catholics and Muslims and a small Serbian Orthodox population had long lived as neighbors. Many Bosniaks fled or were forced out. Her husband was taken to a concentration camp.
Her husband was eventually released from prison, but was required to do forced labor 48 hours at a time. He was away digging ditches the night militants banged on their door and threatened to kill her baby if she screamed. She recognized some of the men as neighbors and begged for mercy, but they marched her off to an abandoned house and raped her repeatedly. She still remembers the voice of the man who wore a mask. No need to kill her, he told the others when they were done.
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