Assignment: She was raped in Ukraine. How many others have stories like hers?
Just a week into the war, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba alleged there had been “numerous cases” of Ukrainian women being raped by Russian soldiers. But more than 100 days into the conflict, investigators are still struggling to assess the prevalence of sexual violence — and how many people have stories like Kateryna’s.
Ukraine has accused Russian troops of rape, a tough crime to prosecute
Not only is access and information limited in occupied areas such as Mariupol, but trauma, fear and stigma can deter people from coming forward.
“To investigate sexual crimes on the occupied territory, when we are still in the military conflict, is very hard,” said Ukraine’s prosecutor general, Iryna Venediktova. “It’s very difficult, because the victims are actually scared.”
Polish prosecutors, who have gathered more than 1,000 war crimes testimonies from refugees, say none so far relate to sexual violence.
For the moment at least, Kateryna remains one of the uncounted. She retreated to her cot as researchers logging potential war crimes made their way around the refugee center where she was staying in Poland, having escaped Mariupol on a circuitous route through Russia.
She later volunteered her story to Washington Post journalists as they interviewed another member of her group. But as far as reporting her case to authorities, she said: “I’m not ready yet.”
Assignment for the Washington Post