These Ukrainian women live in fear of rape and assault by Russian soldiers

In Ivankiv, a small town 80 kilometers northwest of Kyiv, Russian soldiers arrived on February 24 and left on April 1. For the women of the city, these thirty-six days of occupation in the context of the war in Ukraine were hell. “I was scared because people started talking about raping girls”Says Dasha, a young goldsmith. At the coffee table, she evokes the horror in which everyone lived. “In the immediate nearby village of Zbrodka, there were cases”Emphasizes.

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This is the heavy price that women have paid in this war: they are raped, tortured and assaulted. Dasha herself had a painful seizure. “Here, near my work, I saw a car of Russian soldiers, they were either drugged or drunksays the young jeweler. It was very scary, because they rolled out the window and stopped. I thought: Where do I run? Where do I run? what should I do ? I was scared.” Fortunately for her, none of them touched her.

To escape from the abuses of Russian soldiers, Ukrainian women had to adapt their lifestyle. “The Russians entered a former classmate’s house, and they told her not to let girls go out and to dress like homeless so she wouldn’t get noticed.” The result: several women from Ivankiv “I neglected”In her words, so as not to be noticed, especially because Chechen soldiers were around the village. “There, it was very scary! The girls were no longer going out: the men stopped them to protect them.

Tatiana Sevridymko, Ivanka Municipal Councilor (Ukraine), in April 2022 (FARIDA NOUAR / FRANCEINFO)

Some women decided to go further by cutting their hair to be as invisible as possible. “They no longer want to be attractive! They no longer wear make-up, they put scarves on their heads as in the villages …”, details Tatiana Sevridymko, city councilor for the city. Still shocked by this episode. “I hung. Look at me: Before, I would never have gone to work in such a uniform.” She says she is convinced that the women will keep these customs until the end of the war. “I will explain it to you, woman to woman, so that you may understand.”She slips.

“Even though they are gone, we are still afraid. This will continue until there is peace. People will need time to recover from this PTSD.”

Tatiana Sevridymko, member of the Ivanko City Council

in franceinfo

In Borodianka, located 45 kilometers south of Ivankiv, residents did everything to protect the women of the city. “They were looking for little girls: we found out and hid them as much as possible”Valentina says. The old man tells the trick used: “We hid some in the basement. My friend wanted to hide her 17-year-old granddaughter in the straw, but the Russians shot him, so I decided to hide her in a bank.”

In front of her house, the old woman remembers the soldiers’ passing: “They broke into every house. They were looking for weapons and asking: Are there men? Are there women?” Barbarians! “ The remains of another dwelling are shown: here, six people of the same family were crushed to death under the rubble.

It was not only young women who lived in fear of rape and assault in the so-called martyred city of Borodinka. Older women like Valentina were also terrified and felt insecure. “One day I came out and was going straight to the swamps. A soldier came out of the bush and said to me: Grandma, where are you going? I told him: I will feed my dogs. He said: Granny, I will kill you! I said, ‘No, son.’ Maybe you have a grandmother, too.” Let me go.

She also tells of the persistence of this fear even after the departure of the Russian forces. “I take painkillers because I can’t sleep at night. I feel like every passing car is going to come back. How scary! I’d do anything in this world to make sure they don’t come back.”

>> War in Ukraine: A mother and daughter recount two weeks of rape and horror in Bucha

Although voices are beginning to be heard, it is difficult to know precisely how many women have been raped or assaulted. In fact, many Ukrainian women are still silent about what happened to them.

Lyudmila Denisova, a human rights officer in the Verkhovna Rada, has documented the cases of 25 women being held in a basement and raped in Bucha.
Talking about President Volodymyr Zelensky “Hundreds of rape cases were recorded, including underage girls and young children”. The NGO La Strada says it has received nine calls about rapes committed by Russian soldiers against women between the ages of 12 and 50.

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