Respect, Support, Justice – an Event Dedicated to Sexual Crimes in Ukraine Was Held with the Support of the EU Project Pravo-Justice

On May 5, the first part of the event “Respect. Support. Justice” took place in Kyiv as part of the “United for Justice” series. The key goal of the event was to synergize the efforts of the State and non-government actors to help victims and witnesses of conflict-related sexual violence (CRSV).

The event was attended by representatives of the government, the Verkhovna Rada, the public prosecutor’s office, the National Police, the SSU, local self-government and NGOs organizations, as well as judges. The World café format was used so that they could develop solutions for implementing best practices in joint work and coordination of efforts.

Deputy Prosecutor General of Ukraine Viktoriia Litvinova and Country Manager of the EU Project Pravo-Justice Oksana Tsymbrivska addressed, among others, to the participants to the event with a welcome speech.

“Sexual crimes committed by the Russian military against our citizens constitute a very sensitive matter. The victims are women, men, and children. We must protect them and treat them very carefully. As persons who have faced and survived such terrible crimes, they are the ones who will be able to show the real face of Russia to the whole world,” Deputy Prosecutor General Viktoriia Litvinova said.

She emphasized that today we are united by a common goal, which is to restore justice and ensure that the guilty are brought to justice at all levels. According to Litvinova, Ukrainian and international experience shows that the process of investigating this category of crimes should be careful and take into account a wide range of aspects.

“Persons who have experienced sexual violence often remain silent about these crimes. We currently need to coordinate the efforts of the State and non-government actors in order to help the victims as much as possible. Bringing to justice for these crimes and returning the victims to a normal life is the mission of the civilized world,” she emphasized.

According to Oksana Tsymbrivska, Country Manager of the EU Project Pravo-Justice, the investigation of conflict-related sexual violence (CRSV) crimes and bringing the perpetrators to justice is one of the key areas of cooperation between the Project and the Office of the Prosecutor General.

“Since the beginning of Russia’s full-scale aggression, the public prosecutor’s office has registered some 200 facts of sexual crimes. We understand that these numbers may need to be multiplied by 10 or even by 100. Thus, we see three important vectors for bringing the guilty to justice. First of all, this is dealing with the problem of stigmatization of the topic of sexual violence in the society, which entails a number of problems, among others, and a low level of reporting cases of sexual violence. Second, this is the readiness of the system to deal properly with the potential and real number of CRSV crimes and to provide adequate assistance to the victims. Besides, this is the importance of coordination and cooperation of stakeholders for achieving the common goal of restoring justice,” noted Oksana Tsymbrivska.

She also added that the EU Project Pravo-Justice would remain a reliable partner of the Office of the Prosecutor General in this matter.

In turn, prosecutor of the Office of the Prosecutor General Iryna Didenko said that it was people who were the main motivator to work in the area of CRSV. “It is our people – those, who got through it, who survived, who are with us, who are Ukrainians,” she said emotionally. Iryna Didenko expressed confidence that those present at the event would manage to implement the developed ideas in their work.

In addition, founder of the Masha Foundation, Ukrainian UNFPA Goodwill Ambassador for gender equality and fight against violence Mariia Yefrosinina addressed a speech to the participants to the event.

She thanked everyone present for their attention to the problem, as well as for their efforts in bringing to justice those guilty of committing CRSV crimes. At the same time, she said that, unfortunately, victims of such crimes are reluctant to report them to the competent authorities. “Victimized women have no trust in the State at all. They do not want to turn to the police or the public prosecutor’s office for help, or to any other authority, not even for medical assistance. They believe that they will not be provided with any help,” she said.

“Something should be done about this lack of trust in the State and its institutions. We have to show people that the system works. I believe that this situation will improve drastically”, said Mariia Yefrosinina for the conclusion.