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Project March 29, 2021

A Rape Victim’s Quest for Justice, a Child’s Search for Truth

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In June of 1992, a Bosnian woman named Selma was raped by a Serb soldier, impregnated, and held captive until she was too far along in her pregnancy to abort. She gave birth to a baby boy on February 20, 1993, abandoned him at the hospital, and started a new life in the United States.

The baby was adopted by the family of a hospital maintenance worker, who named him Alen. They doted over Alen and provided him a loving home despite taunts from neighbors that they were raising the spawn of the enemy.

Selma kept tabs on what became of Alen because she dreamed of one day seeing her rapist tried for war crimes. Alen was evidence.

In 2006, 14 years after the crime, Selma's rapist was indicted by Bosnia's special war crimes chamber. Selma returned to Bosnia to testify, and Alen, who by then had learned the horrific circumstance behind his birth, provided DNA evidence. The DNA was a match and Selma's rapist was convicted. But he appealed and in a decision that has been widely criticized by legal experts, was acquitted after witnesses testified that he and Selma had a consensual relationship before the war.

Today he is a free man who denies that he is Alen's father. Alen, who is married with a child of his own, has become an activist in Bosnia on behalf of children born of rape. And Selma, once feisty and determined to see justice, is a broken woman.

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