Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine began on 24 February, allegations have been made that Russian soldiers sexually assaulted women. On 4th March 2022, Ukraine’s Foreign Minister, Dmytro Kuleba, spoke of multiple cases of sexual violence in Ukrainian cities which have been occupied.
Following this, four Ukrainian MPs who visited the U.K Parliament, reported that Russian soldiers were deliberately targeting women and children after Ukraine did not surrender. They reported women, including senior citizens, being gang-raped and in some instances killed. Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister, Olha Stefanishyna has also accused Russian soldiers of raping Ukrainian women for hours and then killing them.
There have been multiple reports of Russian soldiers breaking down the doors of cellars and basement where people were sheltering and raping women. Some women were raped in front of their children and there have been allegations of these violent attacks being filmed and put on porn sites by Russian soldiers. Reports of soldiers carrying drugs, Viagra, and multiple packets of condoms have also come to light, raising questions on whether these items were purchased privately or had been supplied.
Due to ongoing hostilities and because many occupied towns and cities have been isolated with most telecommunications down, it has been difficult to independently verify these claims and for reports of sexual violence and further atrocities against civilians to come to light. Reports of sexual violence have been made by civilians who have managed to flee and by survivors from recently liberated areas. Others have been reported on social media or have emerged after the Ukrainian Security Service (SSU) intercepted conversations between Russian soldiers and relatives or friends in Russia where they have bragged about incidents of rape.
It is likely that more reported incidents of sexual violence will emerge in the coming weeks.