Russian War Crimes Against Women and Children Must Be Stopped

The beginning of the full-scale invasion of Russia on the territory of Ukraine was marked by a series of brutal crimes against the civilian population, which continue to this day. Russian servicemen, as a rule, ignore the norms of international law, in particular the Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War.

War crimes, unfortunately, are an integral part of most wars, but it seemed that this was impossible in Europe of the 21st century, when the horrors of the Second World War are not forgotten. But the Russian occupying forces prove that the main European values, such as freedom and the supremacy of human rights, are nothing for Russia. Realizing their dominance over unarmed civilians, Russian servicemen commit brutal crimes against women, children, and the elderly.

One of the common types of such crimes is sexual violence. The enemy uses conflict-related sexual violence (CRSV) as a weapon to demoralize and suppress the will of civilians in occupied regions. Thus, the aggressor state is trying to increase fear and strengthen control, to cause long-term physical and psychological trauma to the victims. According to the Office of the Prosecutor General of Ukraine, as of April 2024, 287 facts of CRSV have been recorded. Among them are rape, genital mutilation, forced exposure, threats and attempted rape, forced to watch sexual abuse of loved ones. One hundred and two men, 185 women, 15 minors, including 14 girls and 1 boy, were among those injured. The age of the victims is from 4 to 82 years.

It is known about a teacher of Ukrainian language and literature raped by the Russian troops. Simply because she taught Ukrainian language and literature. Women were raped in front of their children, girls — in front of their families, as a conscious act of submission. Women were raped by large groups of soldiers, and they killed men if they tried to protect them. There have been recorded cases where little girls died after being raped. However, the government of the aggressor state encourages and supports such behavior. In addition, taking into account the huge number of children kidnapped by Russia, the number of which can range from 19.5 thousand (as known from officially registered cases) to 700 thousand (as Russian propagandists claim), the number of such crimes can be many times higher.

However, CRSV cases among the Russian occupiers began long before the full-scale invasion. The first such cases became known in 2014-2015 in the occupied territories of Donetsk and Luhansk regions. Sexual violence was often used against civilians.

Rape is a weapon in the hands of the Russians against civilian women and children. The Russians seek to destroy as many Ukrainians as possible, both physically and morally. A victim of sexual violence require qualified and timely psychological and medical treatment, at worst, it can have serious consequences with a fatal outcome.

Occupying forces use sexual violence as a psychological weapon, humiliating the victims, depriving them of their sense of human dignity. According to paragraph (d) of Article 2 of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, by using sexual violence against the civilian population, the Russians are imposing measures to prevent the birth of children within the group.

Russia is waging a genocidal war against Ukraine. All its actions are designed to destroy Ukrainians, the Russians seek to cause as much damage as possible and break the psychologically peaceful population of Ukraine. Such actions are unacceptable in the 21st century. Together we can successfully oppose it, and punish the guilty in accordance with the norms of international law.