Bosnia and Herzegovina - Social development

Social welfare systems have been in crisis since the wars of the 1990s. International efforts are in place to shift from humanitarian aid to a sustainable social welfare system. There is also an effort to reformulate disability pensions.

In both the Bosnian and Serb entities, the extent of legal and social discrimination against women varies by region. Women in urban areas pursue professional careers in such areas as law, medicine, and academia, while their rural counterparts are often relegated to the margins of public life. Violence against women remains underreported and there are accounts of police inaction in domestic situations. Maternity benefits are not always paid, and pregnant women and new mothers are recurrently dismissed without cause. Trafficking of women remains a significant problem.

All sides were guilty of human rights atrocities in the war and its aftermath. By 1995, it was estimated that up to two-thirds of the country's prewar population have become refugees or displaced persons. Women were targeted for cruel treatment during the war, and Serb forces systematically used rape as a tool to accelerate ethnic cleansing. The worst single incident of genocide in Europe since World War II occurred in the Bosnian "safe haven" of Srebrenica in 1995. Over 7,000 people are missing from Srebrenica, and are presumed dead.

Human rights abuses have continued in the political entities established by the 1995 Dayton Peace Accords. Discrimination and harassment of minority ethnic groups remain an huge problem in all regions. There are widespread reports of police brutality and corruption, and prison standards are poor.

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