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Russian rapists: largest number of cases in Kherson Oblast, with victims ranging in age from 4 to 83

Thursday, 5 October 2023, 14:30
Russian rapists: largest number of cases in Kherson Oblast, with victims ranging in age from 4 to 83
Russian soldiers. Photo: TASS and Radio Liberty

Kherson Oblast is the region where the largest number of sexual crimes committed by Russian servicemen against Ukrainian men and women has been documented. Of 235 cases recorded across Ukraine, 66 have already been solved.

Source: Pryazovia News, a Radio Liberty project

Details: Dmytro Lubinets, the Verkhovna Rada (Parliamentary) Commissioner for Human Rights, said on 30 September that Russia is using sexual violence as a tactic of war, a weapon, and a tool to humiliate and oppress the Ukrainian people.

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The Office of the Prosecutor General of Ukraine has already recorded 235 cases of sexual violence, with the victims’ ages ranging from 4 to 82.

Currently, the largest number of cases of sexual violence has been documented in Kherson Oblast, with 72, followed by Kyiv Oblast with 52, Donetsk Oblast with 55, Kharkiv Oblast with 21, Zaporizhzhia Oblast with 15, Chernihiv Oblast with 6, Luhansk Oblast with 3, Mykolaiv Oblast with 9, and 2 in Sumy Oblast.

On 25 September, the UN War Crimes Commission noted in a report to the Human Rights Council in Geneva that Russian soldiers have raped and sexually assaulted women aged 19 to 83 in Kherson Oblast. Often family members were kept in the next room so they were forced to listen to the violence.

Iryna Didenko, the head of the specialised department of the Prosecutor General's Office, told Pryazovia News that the 235 cases of sexual violence recorded by the department are those in which the victims are prepared to testify. Of these, 66 cases have already been solved, she added.

Instances of sexual violence come to light after territories are liberated or the victim leaves an occupied area.

Quote from Didenko: "These are only the instances where people are prepared to go to a criminal trial, and that is not easy because you have to retell your story. Not everyone is ready to talk about it, even with us. The largest number of instances is indeed in Kherson Oblast - 72. If you take Zaporizhzhia separately, there are 15.

But again, we learn about most instances where the most liberation has taken place. As soon as liberation takes place, new instances are immediately revealed to us. Plus, people start to trust a little more because they see our new approaches."

Details: Didenko confirmed that the ages of the victims ranged from 4 to 83. She said there are many cases involving 72-year-olds and 82-year-olds.

"Here you need to understand the context; this is not about satisfying needs at all. We are talking exclusively about the destruction of a person, insulting that person, trying to destroy them morally and physically. That’s why the ages are so different," Didenko explained.

"There is (a case of) a 4-year-old child. This is one of the crimes that has already been solved; we recently sent an indictment to the court against them. And in the same case, by the way, there are girls aged 15 and 17 and a woman of 83," Didenko added. 

Each story is horrific, the head of the specialised department of the Prosecutor General's Office says.

One woman ran through a minefield to escape from a Russian soldier at a checkpoint - she was lucky to be alive, Didenko said.

She noted that victims remember the offender's face very clearly, even if a lot of time has passed. So in the cases that have been opened, the rapists have already been identified; that is, the names of the direct perpetrators of the crimes are known.

But there are also those who give orders or condone the commission of these war crimes.

Quote from Didenko: "We are aware that crimes have been committed, if not at the behest, then with the connivance of senior leadership. Therefore, our key task is to collect all these crimes as a pyramid, from the perpetrators to those who organised them, to the leaders at the top. Then we will take them to the International Criminal Court."

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