As the war continues in Ukraine, survivors call for urgent action to repair the harms of conflict-related sexual violence
Date and time
Geneva/Kyiv, 5 July 2022 – The Global Survivors Fund (GSF), together with the Eastern-Ukrainian Center for Civic Initiatives, Blue Bird and Truth Hounds, has today released the findings of a Study on the Status of and Opportunities for Reparations for Survivors of Conflict-Related Sexual Violence in Ukraine. The Study covers conflict-related sexual violence that has occurred since 2014 when Russia first invaded Ukraine, and is ongoing as a result of the further invasion in 2022.
GSF and its Study partners call for urgent life-saving support to victims of conflict-related sexual violence whose lives have been shattered. A failure to provide such support risks exacerbating the harms caused by sexual violence.
The ongoing conflict-related sexual violence is also having devastating effects on individuals, families, and society. Shortly after the start of Russia’s full-fledged invasion on 24 February 2022, gruesome reports of rape and other forms of sexual violence against women, men and children began to surface and it is feared that these are only the tip of the iceberg.
The main findings of the Study show that:
- Survivors of conflict-related sexual violence require urgent medical, psychological, and economic support to be able to start rebuilding their lives.
- Survivors further need acknowledgment of what has been done to them. For them, justice cannot be achieved without duty-bearers taking responsibility for reparations. As one survivor commented: “Reparation is the (…) logical completion of the justice process.”
- A comprehensive state reparations policy is needed in Ukraine, especially since the number of victims continues to grow.
Having visited Ukraine and engaged with State representatives, GSF Executive Director Esther Dingemans applauds current efforts by the Ukrainian authorities to acknowledge what has happened to survivors and to provide them with reparations, adding that “Ukraine has shown a strong desire to address the harms caused by conflict-related sexual violence in real time. By acting now, they could not only avoid further harm for survivors in Ukraine, but also set a formidable precedent for other countries to follow”.
GSF and its partners also call on the President of Ukraine to pass a presidential decree setting up a comprehensive reparations policy for survivors of conflict related sexual violence, including the delivery of urgent reparations. The Study further sets out recommendations for the international community to support and prioritise reparations by both providing technical assistance to the Ukrainian government and through the repurposing of Russian sanctioned assets to finance reparations. Importantly, victims and survivors must play a central role in the process of designing and implementing a reparations programme. As expressed by one survivor : “Victims should be involved in this process. Why for us but without us?” To date, Russia and Russian-backed armed groups in Ukraine have not acknowledged and have done nothing to remedy the crimes they are responsible for, including conflict-related sexual violence. As they are unlikely to do so of their own volition, the international community must continue to exert pressure on Russia to cease military action and to meet its international obligations, including that of making reparations.
Together with its partners, GSF works to enable access to reparations for victims and survivors of conflict-related sexual violence worldwide, by providing technical guidance to states and other stakeholders for comprehensive co-created reparations. GSF is determined to act alongside other stakeholders for and with survivors in Ukraine to make reparations a reality now.
Background: The Ukraine Reparations Study is part of a global study on reparations for survivors of conflict-related sexual violence led by the GSF in collaboration with over 40 national and international partners, including victims’ associations. This Global Reparations Study focuses on the status of and opportunities for reparations for survivors of conflict-related sexual violence in over 25 countries. It seeks to make recommendations for further action based on victims’ and survivors’ needs and aspirations, identifying potential support available among key actors working in the fields of conflict-related sexual violence, reparation and transitional justice.
For media queries, please contact: Maud Scelo - Head of Communications at GSF (firstname.lastname@example.org - +33 6 48 23 08 43)