A 14-year-old girl who was raped by five Russian soldiers and is now pregnant. 11-year-old boy, raped in front of his mother chained to a chair. Another girl was raped in front of her mother, Ekatarina.
This, with great shock, testifies to the Swiss media RTS: “They asked me to kneel, and then they said to me: Your daughter is very beautiful. I begged them not to touch her, and I said to them: Do with me what you want, but do not touch him. I believe that only my eyes and ears are not violated’“.
Horrific stories similar to Ekaterina’s have multiplied in Ukraine, since the beginning of this war declared by Russia. According to historian Carol Mann, the crimes said in the Bucha massacre are just “the tip of the iceberg”. This gender and armed conflict specialist tells us: “We are in the process of finding out [Boutcha] It is not an isolated case.”
Define complex crimes
Remembers Maria Dmitrieva, an expert on gender issues and founder of the largest feminist discussion forum in Ukraine.
In all cultures, rape is an element of shame.
Then “certificates appeared” and “official statements appeared”. And Rape of Russian soldiers as a “weapon and instrument of war” has become a reality.
“We are hearing more and more about rape and sexual violence. These allegations must be investigated independently to ensure justice and accountability. The combination of mass displacement, the massive presence of conscripts and mercenaries, and the brutality shown against Ukrainian civilians has stirred everyone up.UN Women.
Many associations are trying to identify and document these war crimes. But assessing the scale of these crimes is a necessary task because it is complex. It is almost impossible. “In all cultures, rape is an element of shame,” Carol Mann analyzes. Victims do not talk about it, or talk very little.
People who do not need medical help and care prefer stress and avoid talking about it. Especially if they are fleeing the country.
And then, in such a war, it is not always easy to get to the channels to listen to and can deter potential steps or reprisals. Then, as Maria Dmitrieva repeats over and over again Marie ClaireTo speak, to testify, for victims is “not a priority” nowadays.
The Ukrainian notes that “confirmed cases of war rape” in her country are mostly victims “who had to go to the hospital to treat their serious injuries and take them to the hospital.” She noted, “Women are reluctant to go to psychiatrists or even the police. People who don’t need medical help and care will prefer being tough and avoiding talking about it.” Especially if they are fleeing the country.”
Women and children, the silent victims
Since the atrocities committed in Bucha, northwest of Kyiv, and the departure of the Russian troops, a psychological unit was immediately created. Even today, the psychologist still receives new degrees, sometimes from minors. Their common point? Unspeakable violence. “A degree of atrocity” that “Ukrainians would never have imagined.”
“Most of the women and children who have experienced these rapes will unfortunately never speak,” this psychiatrist orders RTSI agree with Maria Dmitrieva.
They use sexual violence against both women and men in order to destroy their lives.
Victims in Ukraine are women, as well as children, girls and boys. Some of the victims are young people. According to a British newspaper, metroA Russian soldier even filmed himself raping a one-year-old boy, before posting a video of his heinous crime on his social networks.
“Those who cannot defend themselves are the first victims of this type of violence,” Maria Dmitrieva laments.
If counting victims seems complicated, it is essential to hear their words and give them a channel to express themselves. And while wartime rapes are not uncommon, “they remain serious and should not be underestimated,” insists the historian, author of
women in war
(Editions Pygmalion). Because these rapes “behind the ethnic cleansing project.”
The question is also naming these heinous acts. Determine whether, from a legal point of view, it could be classified as a “crime against humanity” or “genocide”. And to know whether these are individual actions or a military and political strategy developed by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
It is not a military army but a punitive unit.
“We know that this is how the Russian army fights. It is not a military army but a punitive unit, to keep the colonies of their empire under subjugation. Sexual violence has always been part of their method of colonization (…) This is what they did in Chechnya, in Syria In the occupied territories of Ukraine 8 years ago [annexion de la Crimée en 2014, NDLR]Ukrainian Feminist Narratives. They use sexual violence against both women and men with the aim of destroying their lives.”
If US President Joe Biden and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky have already used the term “genocide”, then the Assembly Human Rights Watch Refers to “war crimes”.
Carol Mann, still be careful about the use of words. To speak of a “crime against humanity” or “genocide”, it is necessary to “first define them legally, there must be an express intent“, recalls the expert interviewed.” Even if that sounds true, we can prove it and determine it later.”
And after some rapes, the attackers told the women, “After that, you’ll never want to make love to anyone again, and I’ll be disgusted for life.”
to Marie ClaireCarol Mann breaks down these rapes, from apologizing for the unprecedented violence to a strategy of extermination.
Marie Claire Rape cases are frequent in times of war. How are these rape weapons of war? What is their impact on Ukrainian society, but also their goal in the conflict?
Carol Mann: This is called ethnic cleansing. This means the humiliation of all society and women.
After some rapes, the attackers told the women, “After that, you’ll never want to make love to anyone again, and I’ll be disgusted for life.” As they tell the victims: “You will stop making baby Nazis.” [Une référence à l’un des arguments brandis par Vladimir Poutine pour justifier l’invasion de l’Ukraine, NDLR]. “
When we touch a woman’s body, a woman’s sexuality, reproduction is also in the camera lens… Rape, here, is the will to break filiation, continuity, and multiplication of culture.
Women are the main victims. But many testimonials also relate to children, girls or boys, sometimes very young. Is this new?
I think it was more hidden than before. But here, with regard to children, it goes a little further than usual.
Rape of children is part of this desire to completely annihilate society, dehumanizing it as much as possible.
Get bangs and cover as much as possible, put ashes on your face, look older… We protect ourselves as best we can.
Young girls are forced to cut and shave their hair to protect themselves from soldiers.
It happens in many societies, and in many wars, forever. Get bangs and cover as much as possible, put ashes on your face, look older… We protect ourselves as best we can.
Cruelty and deterioration of women’s rights
How do you analyze the astounding violence found in the testimonies of these Ukrainian victims?
There is incredible cruelty. But what is the return? This is another story. What happened in the mindset of people, these soldiers, to become inhumane.
We need to portray them as savages but there are no profiles. They can be from the cities and from the countryside and indulge in this kind of violence. As with sexual violence in general, it’s often the unsuspecting people.
How do you respond to these rapes, these war crimes?
Information needs to be circulated, women need to speak up. All this shame, of all cultures, needs to rise and change sides.
The shame factor is present in all societies when it is the aggressor, the criminal, who should be ashamed.
Is this sexual violence, very violent rapes, another sign of the deterioration of women’s rights in the world?
The fact that there are all his rapes is not a symptom of the positive development of male mentalities. Countries are becoming more and more reactionary. Women’s rights are deteriorating and under threat in many places.
Everything is connected. Yes, this rape and this deterioration in the rights of women in the world are linked. Even if one does not agree with the other. All of this takes place in the context of harmful, petty violence.
- War in Ukraine: UN calls for investigation into sexual violence against women
- Alyona Shkrum, Ukrainian MP: Rape is another shock to this war