Croatia, population 4.5 million, declared independence from communist Yugoslavia in 1991 and gained full independence after the four-year Serbo-Croatian War. Croatian women were drastically affected by the war, which ended in 1995. Poverty, rape, displacement and murder are realities that confronted many Croatian women throughout the 1990s. After the end of the war, women's lives were affected by a faltering economy. The post-war economy was unstable, and growth was hampered by coalition politics. Nonetheless, the economy and the status of women in Croatia are improving. While gender disparities remain, women are increasing their presence in both the parliament and the judiciary.


Violence against women is a serious problem in Croatia. One of the most tragic results of the Balkan armed conflict were the thousands of genocidal or ethnic rapes committed during the war - a tragedy so powerful that in 1993, the International War Crimes Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia identified systematic rape as a crime against humanity for the first time. In Croatia, sexual assault is an underreported, endemic problem. A study conducted in 2003 revealed that thirty-four percent of women in Croatia were sexually assaulted at least once. Rape, including spousal rape, is illegal in Croatia.


Croatia is primarily a transit country for human trafficking to Europe and plays a lesser role as a source and destination country. Women from many countries are trafficked by truck or boat to Croatia. The average age of victims is 24 and they are often subject to violence and intimidation.

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