Illustration photo – A Russian soldier by a truck in Mariupol on June 12, 2022.
Berlin – Sexual violence has become almost epidemic after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, says Marta Havryšková. Rape and other forms of sexual attacks on women and men can be documented in all areas temporarily occupied by Russia, according to a Ukrainian expert who has been dealing with the topic for years. Their youngest known victims were four years old, the oldest over eighty. Havryšková told the German television ARD.
Photo gallery: Russian invasion of Ukraine
“The youngest victim known today is a four-year-old girl. Her parents were raped right in front of her eyes. She was later raped in front of her parents,” Havryšková describes one of the tragic cases of the year-long war.
The fact that it is certainly not unique is evidenced by the statements of UN representatives, according to which there are indications that sexual abuse by Russian soldiers is systematic and used as a weapon of war. Havryšková is also to blame, according to which many victims talk about the fact that the sexual violence was organized by the commanders of the Russian units. In other cases, they knew exactly what was going on but did nothing to prevent it or to punish the soldiers in question.
“The lack of adequate punishment may be a factor that encourages many soldiers to commit these violent acts. So we can say that sexual violence is one of the weapons of war for them, along with bombs and rockets,” said Havryšková.
A woman who fled Ukraine with her son last year and is now researching sexual violence at the University of of Basel, Switzerland, also draws attention to the fact that sexual attacks are not only directed against women, but also against men. Many of them have been castrated or suffered other forms of genital violence.
Victims often bear the consequences of abuse for a long time. “It means nightmares, memories, constant reliving of traumatic experiences,” explains Havryšková, according to whom it often leads to social isolation and other difficulties. “We have cases of women and men who committed suicide after being raped, and also cases where their children, who witnessed the rape, tried to take their own lives,” he concludes.