The United Nations is hearing more and more stories about rape and sexual violence in Ukraine, a senior UN official told the Security Council on Monday, when a Ukrainian human rights group accused Russian troops of using rape as a weapon of war.
Kateryna Cherepakha, president of La Strada Ukraine, said her organization’s emergency hotlines had received calls accusing Russian soldiers of nine rape cases involving 12 women and girls.
“This is just the tip of the iceberg,” she told the municipality via video. “We know and see – and we want you to hear our voices – that violence and rape are now being used as weapons of war by Russian invaders in Ukraine.”
Russia has repeatedly denied attacking civilians since its invasion of Ukraine on February 24.
The United Nations said last week that UN human rights monitors were trying to verify allegations of sexual assault by Russian troops, including gang and rape in front of children, and allege that Ukrainian troops and civil defense militias also committed sexual assault.
Ukraine’s UN mission did not immediately respond to a request for comment on allegations against Ukrainian troops.
“Russia, as we have stated on more than one occasion, is not waging war against the civilian population,” Russian Deputy UN Ambassador Dmitry Polyanskiy told the Security Council on Monday, accusing Ukraine and allies of “a clear intention to use Russian soldiers as sadists and rapists.”
UN Women Executive Director, Sima Bahous, said all allegations should be investigated independently to ensure justice and accountability.
“We hear more and more about rape and sexual violence,” she tells the municipality. “The combination of mass displacement with the high pressure results of conscripts and mercenaries and the brutality displayed against Ukrainian civilians has raised all the red flags.”
All parties to the war in Ukraine have a conscription system, in which young men are legally required to perform military service. Ukraine and Russia have accused each other of using mercenaries.
Russia says it is conducting a “special military operation” in support of separatists’ declarations of independence in two provinces in eastern Ukraine.
Ukraine’s UN Ambassador Sergiy Kyslytsya told the Security Council that Ukraine’s Attorney General launched “a special mechanism for documentation of cases of sexual assault by Russian soldiers against Ukrainian women”.
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