The victims, whose exact number remains unknown, will receive a one-off payment of 100,000 kuna (RM53,155), and a monthly allowance of 2,500 kuna. They will also be entitled to free counselling, legal and medical aid.
“Such legislation is rare in the world, and it is the first of its kind in this region whereby the victims will get a dignified one-off financial compensation,” Matic War Veterans Minister Fred Matic told lawmakers last week.
The law, which takes effect from next January, was endorsed by 86 deputies while three abstained.
In 2008, the United Nations Security Council adopted a resolution that said rape and other forms of sexual violence could constitute war crimes, following reports of mass rapes in Croatia’s neighbour Bosnia and in Rwanda.
“This law will be a model for all other countries at war, which will have to deal with this issue and can now look up to Croatia,” Marija Sliskovic, the founder of Women in the Homeland War civic group, told Reuters.
“It will come in handy, I have a small pension. But if I got billions, it could not pay for what we went through,” she told Reuters in Vukovar, a town on the Danube that has been rebuilt since the war but remains burdened by ethnic tensions.
In neighbouring Bosnia, about 20,000 women are believed to have been raped during the 1992-95 war. Those in the autonomous Bosniak-Croat Federation can get monthly payments as civilian victims of war.
In the Serb Republic, Bosnia’s other half, they have to go through a lengthy legal process of proving the crime, which has discouraged most victims.
In Kosovo, another region of former Yugoslavia torn by conflict in the 1990s, Parliament passed a law in 2014 that envisages benefits for the rape victims but the government has yet to define the benefits.