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Euromaidan Press
21 Oct 2023
Serge Havrylets

UN report: Russian military rape and kill Ukrainian women in occupied territories

Russian soldiers raped girls and women aged 16 to 83 during the occupation of Kherson Oblast.
Illustration by UN Women, Pozytuvni Zhinky. 22 March 2022. Source

Soldiers of the Russian army raped girls and women aged 16 to 83 during the occupation of Kherson Oblast in southern Ukraine, according to the report of the United Nations Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine.

The report was released on 19 October 2023. The UN Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine has previously documented cases of sexual and gender-based violence committed by the Russian military in nine regions of Ukraine and on the territory of Russia.

The Commission focused its recent investigations on Kherson and Zaporizhzhia Oblasts only. The documented cases of rape by the Russian military occurred between March 2022 and July 2022 in small villages in the Kherson Oblast.

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According to the report, some Ukrainian women were already pregnant when Russian soldiers raped them. During the occupation of Kherson Oblast, Russian soldiers raped a 16-year-old pregnant girl and women aged 19 to 83, the report stated based on investigated cases. According to the report, Russian soldiers beat their victims. Several women had broken ribs and knocked-out teeth.

Apart from a 16-year-old pregnant girl, Russian soldiers in the occupied Kherson Oblast raped three elderly women, the report stated. Some of the raped women lived alone. Others lived with young children. One of the victims lived with a family member who had a disability, the report stated.

Some raped women stayed in their villages after Russian forces occupied the Ukrainian territory to care for elderly or disabled relatives. Some stayed to look after their property, while others said they could not escape.

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According to the report, the documented rapes were committed with force or psychological coercion. Most incidents occurred after the perpetrators broke into the victims’ homes and threatened them with weapons or articulated the intention to kill their relatives.

In some cases, the same perpetrator raped the victim two or more times. In two instances, Russian soldiers raped the victims in a group. One of the victims and her husband were shot dead by Russian invaders after they reported the rape.

At the same time, the report stated that the Russian military committed additional acts of violence against the victims of rape, including brutal beatings, suffocation, strangulation, stabbing, and shooting near the victim’s head. In several cases, family members were forced to watch the rape. One of the witnesses of the rape reported that a Russian soldier raped her pregnant daughter.

The report provided details of some cases of rape in the occupied Kherson Oblast. In March 2022, a Russian soldier came to the home of an 83-year-old woman and forced her to open the door. He asked her if she knew anyone who collaborated with the Ukrainian Armed Forces. The Russian soldier repeatedly beat the woman with his rifle during the interrogation.

After the interrogation and beating, the Russian soldier ordered the woman to undress, raped her, and continued to rape and beat her for several hours. He threatened to rape the woman’s husband, who lived in the same house. The woman’s husband had a disability. After the Russian soldier stole some belongings, he left.

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In March and April 2022, several groups of Russian soldiers repeatedly visited the home and shop of a married couple. The victim reported that the soldiers looted, forced her to cook for them, showered, and slept in her house.

During one of the visits in April 2022, one of the Russian soldiers threatened to kill the 59-year-old woman and sexually harassed her after his comrades locked her husband in another room of their house. Later, in April 2022, three Russian soldiers broke into the same house at night. Two soldiers beat the woman with guns, threatened to shoot her, and fired at her husband but missed. After that, they tore off her clothes and raped her. She tried to escape, but they grabbed her, dragged her into the house, and raped her again.

In May 2022, three Russian soldiers came to the home of a married couple who had stayed in the occupied village in the Kherson Oblast to care for their grandmother. The Russians beat the 52-year-old man. After that, all three Russian soldiers took turns raping his 50-year-old wife. The couple reported the rape to the commander of the Russian military. Neighbors said that after that, three Russian soldiers “were looking for the woman who reported the rape,” came to the couple’s house and shot them both dead, the report state.

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In July 2022, a Russian soldier came to the home of a 75-year-old woman, where she was alone to protect her property. The soldier attacked her, hitting her in the face, chest, and ribs. He also choked the woman while interrogating her. The soldier ordered her to undress, and when she refused, he tore off her clothes, cut her stomach with a small sharp object, and raped her several times. The following day, he raped her again and beat her. As a result, the victim suffered several broken ribs and knocked-out teeth, the report stated.

Apart from sexual and gender-based violence, the UN Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine has gathered new evidence of violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law and corresponding crimes committed by the Russian authorities in Ukraine. It has investigated unlawful attacks with explosive weapons and their impact on civilians, torture, and deportations of Ukrainian children.