March 30, 2023

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Rape is part of Russia’s war strategy

Rape was a military strategy from the beginning War in UkraineHighlighted by the United Nations (UN). Sexual violence during the invasion is not just a side effect of the conflict, but one of the main tactics of deliberate dehumanization by the Russian military, and according to UN reports, affects victims between the ages of four and 82 on Ukrainian territory.

Despite the increased awareness of the issue, rape is still “the most silent, least publicized and least condemned crime,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ Special Representative Pramila Patton noted in an interview. Le Monde.

“Rape and all forms of sexual aggression are committed by Russian forces, often systematically, with extreme brutality and cruelty. Investigations of specific cases demonstrate that this is a military strategy aimed at dehumanizing the victims and terrorizing the population. Ukraine is indeed a weapon of war,” Button revealed.

The first complaints emerged on the third day of the conflict. The Ukrainian government is leading the investigation alongside the UN through different regional representatives and the country’s First Lady Olena Zelenska.

These studies rely on the fact that it is impossible to analyze the total number of rapes committed since February, especially since most victims do not report such crimes for fear of retaliation. However, the reports bring data proving that rape is strong in Russian movements Ukraine.

Reports of widespread rape

The first report was delivered to the UN on September 23 by the head of the International Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine. The team worked in Kyiv, Chernihiv, Kharkiv and Sumy regions, where they visited ruins, torture and detention centers and met more than 150 victims and witnesses. The researchers confirmed the widespread use of rape, with victims ranging in age from children to the elderly, and their relatives being forced to witness the crimes.

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Another report by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) revealed the use of rape by Russian forces against women and children in occupied areas, and against men in detention centers. The study cited shocking examples.

For example, in the Kiev region, two Russian soldiers entered a couple’s home and raped their four-year-old daughter, wife, forced the husband to watch the scene before beating him, torturing him, and forcing him to have sex. His wife was in front of them and the daughter was crying in another room. Later, the child would have revealed that he had also been sexually assaulted.

“In Kiev, I saw the mother of an 11-year-old boy raped in front of his parents. Not to mention the Ukrainian refugees I met in Warsaw turned to the wall at the words ‘sexual violence’. Distraught, unable to speak,” the UN spokesperson recounted.

Konstantin Gudaskas, a volunteer from Bucha region in northern Ukraine, described one of the sex crimes he heard about while evacuating Ukrainians. “She was a 14-year-old girl. Her eyes were red and bloodshot. She said to me, ‘Save me!’ she said,” Kudaskas recalled in an interview with Gonz├ílez Kolshiry, an international correspondent in Ukraine. Le Monde. The volunteer covered the girl with a duvet and took her out of Bucha.

Along the way, she said she was raped for ten consecutive days by Russian soldiers in a basement while her mother was tied to a chair and forced to watch.

“The soldiers told her, ‘We’re going to rape you so you can’t have any more children,'” the volunteer wrote. The Russians shot his mother, who died of her injuries two days later. Taking advantage of the drunkenness of the Russians, who forgot to tie her up, the girl escaped.

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Crime Control

Last month, in Paris, Patton signed a partnership agreement with the NGO Libraries Without Borders, which is creating safe spaces where survivors of sexual violence can access medical, psychological and legal support services, as well as educational activities and professional training.

The Russian government has promised to cooperate with the investigation. However, according to Patton, at each meeting, the Russian representative was content to deny the irregularities, calling them “fake news”. “I’m not happy,” the executive said.

In addition to trauma, organizations are concerned about another consequence of this violence: the pregnancy of raped women. Both those still in the country and those who had to flee. The UN has representatives from neighboring countries such as Germany, Belgium, Denmark, Moldova and Poland. Gathering meetings.

“Can you imagine the desperation of a Ukrainian woman? And her urgency? Can she go home with a Russian child? Never! In Nigeria, I met girls kidnapped by Boko Haram and returned from prison with children. Their fate was terrible. They were rejected by their families, ridiculed, Despised, attacked. […] This crime affects generations,” Pamila said.

Human trafficking

In addition to rape, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said in a statement released in April that “refugees are alert and aware of the risks posed by poachers and criminal networks. .” with promises of free transport, shelter, employment or other forms of assistance”. Echoing recent positions by the Council of Europe and UNICEF, stressing that more than 90% of refugees who have left Ukraine are women and children.

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When the war broke out on February 24, the chaos at the borders benefited the smugglers. The first cases of shelter being offered in exchange for sex were quickly condemned by local unions.