Iryna Dovan distributes food while listening to the testimony of the women in Andriivka, a town of about a thousand inhabitants about 60 kilometers west of kyiv. This small town was occupied by the Russians for a month. Offer help in the areas around kyiv where the Russians have withdrawn.
Iryna investigates the rapes as war crimes. She carries a stack of boxes in her arms, they are food packages that she distributes in a dilapidated town. Many houses have been completely destroyed, but this is a visible pain facing what no one sees: everything that has happened behind the doors of the houses.
Aware of this, Dovhan collects testimonies of rape victims in these towns on the outskirts of the capital. “Russian soldiers have sexually assaulted and on a large scale to Ukrainian women,” she says. These days she listens to the stories of all these women who, like her in 2014, have been raped.
Dovhan was raped by the Russians in 2014
Dovhan herself assures that she was a victim of the Russians in 2014, when she began the war in the eastern region of Donbas. It relates that they held her captive and raped her. Since then she has been working with international organizations to record stories of war rapes.
In this small village he has been able to verify at least three cases. One is that of a woman looking for her 23-year-old son. She went to the Russian headquarters, at the school, because she thought he was being held captive there. “As soon as she arrived she was raped”says Iryna. They also raped her 20-year-old daughter after taking her from her home.
The 2014 war in Donbas brought hundreds of rape stories and now Dovhan he fears that this war brings with it much larger numbers.
“Don’t talk about it, that’s not right”
Dovhan tries to gain the trust of the people he interviews. At the door of another house he meets an old man, he gives him packages of food. He discovers that his daughter and granddaughter were victims of rape by Russian soldiers. She asks if she’d like to talk about it, but he can’t. The man also lost his 23-year-old grandson, who was shot dead by the Russians. “Don’t remind me of my grandson. It won’t bring him back.”, He tells. She bursts into tears and covers her eyes with her hands.
Iryna Dovhan feels a responsibility to record the stories of the victims. “I have a daughter, she is 22 years old. I have a daughter-in-law who is a little older. I have a granddaughter. Help us prevent rape from becoming normalized,” a neighbor tells her.
He knows that he has set himself a difficult mission. “Don’t talk about this, this isn’t right. Just don’t talk about this”asks a woman in a black coat. She says that many will never verbalize sexual violations so as not to expose themselves to society. “They’re embarrassed to talk about it, but they have to.”says Iryna.
Ukraine has denounced “numerous cases” of violations
The Government of Ukraine denounced last week before the European Union “numerous cases” of rape of women in the framework of the Russian invasion, as explained by the European Commissioner for the Interior, ylva johanssonin the commission of Women’s Rights and Gender Equality of the European Parliament.
The commissioner explained to the EU interior ministers that they are aware of “many rapes of women”. Ukraine denounces that Russian soldiers are using rape as a weapon of war, including gang rapes.