Pervasive Gender-Based Violence in Ukraine

Author
Jessica Ruch
Content Type
Working Paper
Institution
Center on Human Rights Education, University of Denver
Abstract
A wife must listen to man and do as he says. She belongs to him now,” my colleague quietly translated as the young couple held hands before the priest. This wedding was just one personal experience of a Peace Corps volunteer in a southeast village, however, research shows systematic discrimination against women and a widespread prevalence of gender based violence (GBV) in Ukraine. The UN reports that 90% of violent cases are against women and though the government has introduced initiatives and ratified laws to prevent and protect against GBV, the country faces major obstacles inhibiting prevention and survivor protection. Domestic violence (DV) and intimate partner violence, sexualized violence, sexual harassment, and human trafficking are the four most pervasive types of GBV in Ukraine. Like many other countries, DV and IPV are taboo and veiled from public and private discussions in Ukraine. The myths encouraging victim blaming in family violence and normalization of violence is still widespread in society. Comprehensive DV data was not collected until the EU and UNDP’s 2009 study, which revealed that nearly 1/3 of adults experienced DV as children and 44% of women experienced DV in their lifetime. Men were more likely to experience DV as children, and women as adults. Seventy-five percent of DV survivors never sought help and only 1-2% contacted NGOs or social services. Information on the status and response to sexualized violence is vague and unsubstantiated. The Ukrainian government reports that service providers are trained to deliver physical and psychological care to sexual assault survivors, but the EU’s Gender Equality Commission concludes that there are no services which ensure immediate care, trauma support or counseling, nor are services free or accessible to all survivors. The NGO, Women Against Violence in Europe reports that there are no permanent centers supporting survivors of sexual assault.
Topic
Gender Issues, Gender Based Violence , Sexual Violence, NGOs
Political Geography
Europe, Ukraine, Eastern Europe