A year ago, Russia launched a large-scale offensive against Ukraine, after that of 2014. In this edition, Olga Stefanishyna, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister for European Integration, talks to us about the backsliding of human rights and of the place of women in the conflict, on the front lines or behind the lines. We also discuss the issue of rape with Marine Courtade. The journalist went to meet victims, with the co-director of the documentary “Rapes in Ukraine, documenting the horror”, Ilioné Schultz, and they followed the investigations of the prosecutor’s office.
The conflict deeply affects the civilian population: millions of people have found themselves on the road to exile, women and children in particular. For those who stayed behind, daily life is very difficult. The conflict deprives the population of access to water, electricity, education…
Despite a society that is still very patriarchal, Olga Stefanishyna describes Ukrainian women who occupy less traditional places. Now more than 40,000 women are fighting in the ranks of the Ukrainian army. For those who do not wield arms, they have swelled the ranks of the approximately eight million people who have fled their homes, accompanying the elderly and children to bring them to safety from the fighting.
But the Deputy Prime Minister also accuses Moscow of abuses against the Ukrainian civilian population: bombing of apartment buildings, looting, sexual crimes against women, men, the elderly and children. She asserts that Russia is guilty of acts of the genocidal type, by moving part of the population of the occupied regions, children in particular, to unknown places or by practicing torture.
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Among the acts already documented or still under investigation, there are very many rapes committed against civilians – men, women, children or the elderly. Journalists Marine Courtade and Ilioné Schultz followed the teams of the prosecutor, associations and met victims. Freedom of speech is difficult, especially in the eastern regions of the country, where Russian troops are sometimes greeted with joy by part of the population.
The challenge of the investigations currently being carried out is to determine whether these rapes are systemic or whether they are the isolated act of soldiers who act on their own. If the investigations determine that it is an order given to the troops, then they will not be qualified as war crimes, but may fall under crimes against humanity or genocidal practices.
Source: France 24