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Ukraine to pay urgent reparations to victims of Russian wartime sexual violence 

This groundbreaking initiative is the first case in the history of reparations measures that addresses the needs of survivors without waiting for the aggressor country to pay damages.
Protest against rape by Russian soldiers in front of the Russian embassy in Tallinn, Estonia. Photo: Rubryka
Protest against rape by Russian soldiers in front of the Russian embassy in Tallinn, Estonia. Photo: Rubryka
Ukraine to pay urgent reparations to victims of Russian wartime sexual violence 

Ukraine initiated a pilot project to provide urgent interim reparations to victims of conflict-related sexual violence (CRSV) during the ongoing war with Russia.

Since 2014, Russia has weaponized internationally recognized crimes, such as sexual violence, in its aggression against Ukraine. The severity and frequency of Russia’s sexual violence escalated significantly with the full-scale invasion in 2022.

The project aims to identify victims of sexual violence and provide them with one-time interim compensation by the end of October 2024. As part of the pilot, 500 people will receive this compensation. 

Deputy Prime Minister Olha Stefanishyna presented this project at the international conference “Restoring the Rights of Victims of Conflict-Related Sexual Violence: An Element of Peace and Global Security” held in Kyiv in March 2024. It was implemented in cooperation with the Government Commissioner for Gender Policy and the Global Survivors Fund.

First Lady Olena Zelenska, who attended the conference, emphasized the importance of immediate action, stating that victims cannot wait for “classic” reparations after the war ends or when Russia agrees to pay compensation.

It is an important step towards restoring justice. And this justice is needed not only in Ukraine. Justice for Ukrainian victims of violence is now a mirror for the world itself,” Zelenska said.

The conference, which brought together representatives from various countries and international organizations, sought to enhance effective assistance to those who suffered from sexual violence during Russia’s war against Ukraine and find ways to achieve justice. It underscored that reparations should be a key element in restoring the rights of CRSV victims.

To date, Ukrainian prosecutors have recorded 274 cases of conflict-related sexual violence. However, the true scale of these crimes is difficult to estimate due to ongoing hostilities, Russia’s temporary occupation of parts of Ukrainian territory, limited access to assistance, and the stigma that discourages victims from reporting sexual-related crimes. 

“We cannot undo the pain that the aggressor has already caused. But we can be an anesthetic for this pain. We can show that not everyone in the world is a murderer and a rapist. That there is help and support. There is justice. There is something to live for,”  Zelenska emphasized.

This project is a unique case in the history of reparations measures, where a victim state, together with civil society and non-governmental organizations, develops steps for the payment of compensation during an ongoing war without waiting for the aggressor country to compensate for the damages, according to the Global Survivors Fund.

Sexual violence as a Russian “military strategy”

According to UN Special Representative on sexual violence, Pramila Patten, rape and sexual assault committed by Russian forces in Ukraine are part of a “deliberate tactic to dehumanize the victims,” with more than 100 verified cases in 2022 only involving victims ranging from 4 to 82 years old. 

In 2023, the UN identified 85 cases of sexual violence committed by Russians in Ukraine. 

Earlier, the UN reported numerous Russian war crimes against Ukrainian civilians and prisoners of war, including torture, sexual violence, murder, and forceful detainment. 


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