Several human rights organizations denounce the use of rape as a weapon of war in Ukraine.
Elena* (name has been changed) is located at Zaporojiethis Ukrainian city where thousands of refugees flock fleeing the south and east of the countrydevastated by the fighting. The young blonde also left her house in the Kherson region on the first day of the Russian offensive. She is waiting for a bus that will take her to Vinnytsiafurther west, where his four children are.
Without showing her face and with her voice often overwhelmed with emotion, Elena decided to testify. She says she was raped by two Russian soldiers for thirteen hours after residents identified her as the wife of a Ukrainian soldier. Her husband has been fighting pro-Russian separatists for two years. in the Donbas region.
“It’s a banderovka”
“Around 3 pm, I went to a grocery store. As I stood in line, Russian soldiers came in and started chatting with customers,” he said. Suddenly, the young Ukrainian sees that they are pointing at her saying “she is a banderovka”, in reference to the Ukrainian ultra-nationalist leader Stepan Bandera, who collaborated with Nazi Germany against the Soviet Union.
“It is because of people like her that this war broke out, she is the wife of a soldier,” she listens then. She says that she is in a hurry to get back to her lodging, but two Russian soldiers follow her.
“I barely had time to get in, the two Russian soldiers came through the door behind me. I didn’t have time to pick up the phone to ask for help, or to do anything,” Elena continues.
Raped for thirteen hours
“Without saying a word, they pushed me onto the bed, crushed me with a machine gun and stripped me naked,” she said through tears.
Elena then recounts that the two soldiers raped her for almost thirteen hours. “They hardly spoke, except sometimes to call me ‘banderovka’ or say ‘your turn,'” she explains excitedly. The young woman did not speak to anyone, not even a doctor or a psychologist, and less so with her family. “I’m a midwife, I administered first aid myself,” she explains.
“I’m disgusted. I don’t want to live anymore,” said the young mother.
Rape as a weapon of war
“I am sure that Ukraine will recover these territories from the Russian soldiers and that our soldiers will take revenge on them,” says Elena to conclude. While several human rights organizations fear the use of rape as a weapon of war in Ukraine, gathering evidence to get justice later is difficult.
“There can be hundreds, even thousands, of raped women and girls,” said Aliona Kryvouliak, head of the Ukrainian branch of the NGO La Strada, which defends women’s rights. Practices also denounced by the kyiv authorities.