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Women, War & Peace: I Came To Testify

July 1, 2011 | By NEH Staff

Narrated by Matt Damon, I Came to Testify is the moving story of how 16 women who had been imprisoned and raped by Serb-led forces in the Bosnian town of Foca broke history’s great silence—and stepped forward to take the witness stand in an international court of law.

Their remarkable courage resulted in a triumphant verdict that led to new international laws about sexual violence in war. “Witness 99,” who was held at gunpoint for a month with dozens of other women in a sports hall in the center of town remembers: “We were treated like animals. But that was the goal: to kill a woman’s dignity.”

Returning to the town of Foca 16 years after the end of the conflict, I Came to Testify also explores the chasm between the seismic legal shift made possible by these brave women war survivors and their experiences in post-war Bosnia, where many must still remain in hiding and exile.

Supported by an NEH Bridging Cultures through Film grant, the one-hour documentary I Came To Testify aired in October on public television as the first installment of PBS’ five-part Women, War & Peace series. Produced by WNET, this moving series examines the role of gender in modern conflict, where women are not only suffering unprecedented casualties, but also emerging as critical partners in building lasting peace.

In 2012 the Women, War & Peace series received the Alliance for Women in Media's Gracie Award for Outstanding Series. It is also among seven programs chosen to receive a Television Academy Honor.

Here, Matt Damon discusses the film and why sexual violence matters to men.

For additional information on Women, War & Peace, visit:


I Came to Testify, a one-hour documentary on the impact of civil war in the Balkans on women and the first international trial for crimes of sexual violence in wartime was produced with support from a $405,710 NEH Bridging Cultures Through Film grant, awarded in 2011.