Russian invaders raped at least 400 Ukrainian children and adults, reports Ukraine’s Human Rights Ombudsman

Lyudmyla Denisova
Lyudmyla Denisova

These people bear serious psychological wounds and are often reluctant to testify about their experience to law enforcement, Denisova said, and many have suffered memory loss due to the trauma of the assault.

“They only remember the beginning of the tragedy and the end,” the Ombudsman explained.

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“But talking about what happened takes time. The project manager says that when three, five, six, sometimes eight sessions are over, the person only then says: “Thank you, now I feel better.” That is, we are talking about the crimes committed by the Russian Federation.”

She noted that reports of rape are received not only from the liberated regions but also from the occupied territories, as soon as the communication is established in those areas.

“There are two features (of this rape),” Denisova said.

“The first is that the rapists are young people aged 20-25. That is, those who grew up on Putin’s rule, on his propaganda. This is the first (notable feature). And the second is that they do it publicly. It’s done necessarily in front of other people and groups, so that others can see how the rape victim is degraded.”

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Often, the Ombudsman related, Russian soldiers will target families to deliberately break them, providing an example of two sisters.

“We have evidence that she is 25 years old and her sister is 16,” Denisova said.

“They hold the 25-year-old down, she is screaming, begging, on her knees: ‘Don’t do this to my sister, do this to me!’ And the other two (Russians) do whatever comes to mind with her younger sister. Both of them need help.”

These rapes have resulted in pregnancies among teenage victims, who then often suffer from suicidal thought and guilt, in addition to the direct effects of the assault.

“And when five Russian orcs rape an 11-year-old boy in his mother’s presence, how can you stand it?” Denisova asked, rhetorically.

“And when a 14-year-old is raped by three Russian orcs? Then, when Bucha was liberated, her mother took her to the doctor, who said that she was pregnant. And it’s impossible to perform an abortion. What’s next, how do you save both the mother and this child? You must understand, they rape and scream, ‘See? This will happen to every Nazi whore.’”

“And (what do you do) when the child no longer wants to live, an 11-year-old girl?” Denisova continued.

“The mother called the hotline, asking ‘What should I do?’ Because she considers herself guilty of not listening to her mother. Her mother forbade her from going out. This was in Hostomel, and she wanted to do something kind for her mother: to pick some flowers. And there’s the rapist. (The child0 only remembers the beginning, and then she remembers nothing, only when she was already thrown to the ground.”

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These cases of rape, of both adults and children, by Russian occupying forces was revealed to be widespread after their retreat from Kyiv Oblast. These, and other atrocities, were revealed to the world, in the bodies of civilians tortured and murdered, and dumped on the streets of Bucha, Irpin, Borodianka, and along the Zhytomyr highway.

According to Denisova, it is now impossible to estimate the scale of sexual crimes committed by Russian forces during the occupation of Ukrainian settlements. The unwillingness of victims to testify may complicate things further, the Ombudsman says – law enforcement authorities are unable to record crimes that are not reported.

However, the need for massive psychological support for victims of sexual violence is paramount, she stressed.