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PACE General Rapporteur denounces the horrifying sexual violence reportedly perpetrated by Russian military forces in Ukraine

Refugee woman in Lviv (Ukraine)

Zita Gurmai (Hungary, SOC), PACE General Rapporteur on Violence against Women and Coordinator of the Parliamentary Network Women Free from Violence, today denounced the horrifying sexual violence reportedly perpetrated by Russian military forces in Ukraine.

“Testimonies of rape and sexual violence are reported daily by journalists, international organisations and by first-hand witnesses. Doctors and other medical specialists describe treating the victims of repeated recourse to this particularly depraved form of sexual violence against women, sometimes carried out in front of their families. Alongside murder, pillage and torture, rape is being used as a weapon to break, demoralise and destroy people, homes and families in Ukraine at this moment,” she said.

The President of the Ukrainian delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly, Maria Mezentseva, denounced the heinous crimes committed in her country in an interview on Sky News, deploring the many victims. “We will definitely not be silent,” she said.

Rape and other forms of sexual violence, which have occurred throughout history during armed conflicts, are war crimes. The Council of Europe Convention on combating and preventing violence against women and domestic violence, the Istanbul Convention, not only criminalises rape and other forms of violence, but also provides for protection of women in conflict as well as women seeking asylum. Article 7 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court includes “rape, sexual slavery, enforced prostitution, forced pregnancy, enforced sterilization, or any other form of sexual violence of comparable gravity” in its definition of crimes against humanity.

“If these allegations are confirmed by the courts, justice must be done, sanctions delivered against the perpetrators, and victims must be recognised, supported and compensated,” underlined Zita Gurmai.