This article contains testimonies that may be particularly distressing to read or hear, but which we feel are important to understanding the situation in Ukraine. All of the links we refer to are likely to contain explicit, non-blurred images.
These are extremely rare testimonies, collected by an RTS journalist. Perhaps the first to define both the horror that women and minors have experienced in Butcha, Ukraine. this city where hundreds of civilian bodies were discovered, and that has become the symbol of the violence of the Russian army.
A mother agreed to break the silence, to tell what she experienced: incessant rapes during the occupation of her city by the Russian army. The soldiers practically moved into her house and turned her house into hell. Her daughter also wanted to testify.
A mother and her daughter recount two weeks of rape and terror in Boutcha – Maurine Mercier
We will call her Ekatarina, 38 years old. She lives in a small house in Boutcha, with her 13-year-old daughter and her 75-year-old mother. Her mother is too old to run away. That is why these three women had to endure the Russian occupation. Her story begins like this:They asked me to kneel says the mother. Then they told me: ‘Your daughter is very beautiful…’ I begged them not to touch her. I told them: ‘Do what you want with me, but don’t touch her.’ They forced me to give them oral sex. In turn, it never ended, they marched, like on a treadmill.
To protect her daughter, this woman will be raped several times a day. For two and a half weeks, the soldiers – between 18 and 25 years old – never arrived alone, always in groups. “Several of them got into it. I think only my eyes and ears weren’t violated.”explicitly Ekaterina.
“They told me: ‘Shut up! We were stationed in Belarus and it’s been a long time since we had a wife! So shut up!’ Otherwise, they threatened to destroy the neighborhood, to kill everyone, my neighbors, my daughter.”
Ekatarina tried in vain to calm down what she defines as “psychopaths”: “They kept asking me where the young people were. I told them I didn’t know. I told them that everyone had fled the city. They told me they were killing and raping children.” Next to her is her 13-year-old daughter: “They asked me to watch my mother being raped…so that I would learn, they said, and so that they could use both of us.”
“One night they came at eight o’clock. I was sleeping. They entered the bed and touched me but finally they went to my mother. They raped her, all eight of them at the same time.”Ekatarina’s daughter, 38
“Suddenly, their gaze would wander, and they would go crazy again, suddenlyEkaterina said. They were completely unpredictable. I really had the feeling that we did not have soldiers in front of us but people who had escaped from the mental hospital. That they had been given weapons and sent to war. They’re not normal.”
The mother describes these drunken soldiers systematically shooting at the gate to signal that they were coming to her house, who would spend hours in her yard, swinging like pendulums, after having raped her. Her daughter did not escape this psychological torture either: “One day they took me to my neighbor’s yard and the soldier told me, ‘Look, that’s what I did this morning. She is the woman I killed. She had blood coming out of her mouth. I waited for her to suffer before finishing her off. I asked him, ‘Did you really do that?’ And he replied: ‘Yes, I like to kill, it excites me’. She was 18, so 5 years older than me.”
“They showed us their night vision goggles. We understood that they could see exactly who they were shooting at, that they knew what they were doing when they were killing civilians. One soldier told us: ‘It’s not war, it’s terrorism, it’s psychological torture. That way your President Zelensky will eventually understand who we are! ‘”
To the whisperers—those neighborhood men who sometimes hint that she could have prevented what happened to her—she replies: “Those who tried to resist were killed or forced to watch their son being raped before their very eyes. I don’t even know how it is possible to see this. I looked these men straight in the eye. They were drunk and crazy. I understood what I had to do.” This mother concludes by saying:I think but I’m not sure we survived.”