Subscribe to Secularism is a Womens Issue

Secularism is a Women’s Issue

Home > impact on women / resistance > Ukraine: Violence Against Women and this time of War

Ukraine: Violence Against Women and this time of War

Tuesday 15 March 2022, by siawi3


Ukraine: Violence Against Women and this time of War

Tuesday 8 March 2022, by PIGUL Victoria, Sotsialnyi Rukh (Social Movement) Ukraine

A full-scale war has broken out in Ukraine. I am writing in 2022, in a time when the whole world is talking about democracy, tolerance and human rights. No one thought that between our various struggle for fair living conditions, for the protection of the environment and the equality of everyone, we would also have to fight with tanks, cruise missiles. To fight, physically, with people whose consciousness is in a reality that is very far from us and our values. It is possible that the aggressor and his supporters are mentally stuck in 1939, but in any case, we are forced to pause our progressive life. Now we have to think about how to provide ourselves, our loved ones and all those who defend the country with the most necessary things: food, water, medicine, warm clothes and military equipment.

Before this war, one could often read or hear ridicule against of that part of the left which spoke of the devastating consequences of the imperialist policy of the Russian Federation. Nobody is laughing now. We live in a reality in which we have to deal with violence, and new restrictions on human rights and freedoms. Anyone, even someone who thinks themselves outside of ’politics’ can feel the real impact of politics on their lives. And those of us who were already consciously IN politics can see that we have work ahead of us for years to come.

One of such tasks will be the ratification of the Istanbul Convention in Ukraine.

I know that now this question seems out of time. But it is worth keeping an eye on the pulse, because how many such issues have been postponed until better times.

Why talk about the Istanbul Convention right now?

The Istanbul Convention is a document designed to combat and combat violence against women and domestic violence. IT has been adopted by the EU and 46 countries. Ukraine signed the convention in 2011, but the ratification process has been delayed for 11 years. The main controversy was largely over the term ’gender,’ with conservatives concerned that their concept of the family would be shattered if the convention were adopted.

However, the Istanbul Convention does not change the concepts of “woman” and “man”, and certainly does not invent any third gender. The word “gender”, so scary for conservatives, is meant to emphasize that a woman can be abused just because she is a woman. Moreover, the convention also protects men from violence.

In November 2021, activists again raised the issue of ratification of the convention and created a petition to the president. They collected the required 25,000 signatures. And on February 16, the president responded. Among other things, he stressed:

"Currently, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine is invited to finalize the package of documents on ratification of the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence [Istanbul Convention]. After the completion of these procedures, I will be ready to submit this bill to the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine as a legislative initiative.”

And then there was the war...

So far, the issue has receded into the background. And it will not come out of the shadows until long after the end of hostilities, because Ukraine will have to recover in all areas. However, this certainly does not mean that gender-based violence has receded into the background. As proof of this, I can cite the publication of the radio host “Radio Liberty”: There is sexual violence against women and girls in the metro and other shelters, where people come in the hope of finding safety.

The pages of information for refugees and displaced persons published information from volunteers about the incident on the border with Poland: pimps under the guise of volunteers and aid took away passports from girls and tried to take them to a brothel.

Also on March 4, posts appeared on social networks about the rape of 11 women by the Russian military in Kherson, where there has been fighting, and in recent days even tanks of the occupiers inside the city. The mayor denied the reports of rape, as there were no formal cases reported by the hospital. However, we know that women do not talk about such things, because they cannot be sure that they will be protected at the legislative level. We also have to take into account the psychological factor and the taboo on issues of gender-based violence in society. After all, we were taught for the most part “not to bring personal things into public discussion.”

Of course, we have many plans for “after the victory”. But it is important to remember that during war, cruelty and anger intensify, personal boundaries are blurred, and the sense of security in general is as if we never knew about it.

Therefore, I urge women and men not to remain silent and to publicize any case of physical / sexual violence. It often seems to us that all volunteering and assistance is motivated by the genuine desire to support people’s basic needs, but this is not always the case.

All the values ​​we held before the war are always with us. And we will stand to the last for every life and for human dignity.

Ukraine’s National Hotline for the Prevention of Domestic Violence, Trafficking in Human Beings and Gender Discrimination continues to operate online.

Telegram: @NHL116123

Facebook: @lastradaukraine

Also, if you are a victim of sexual harassment, enlist the support of loved ones and contact the police.

If you or someone close to you has been raped, seek post-exposure HIV prevention immediately (important! You need to get medical support within 3 days). In Ukraine, this procedure is free.

Contact the HIV / AIDS Prevention and Control Centers:

Sotsialnyi Rukh
Victoria Pigul

Translation: ESSF

Click here to subscribe to ESSF newsletters in English and/or French.