“Rape is another weapon against Ukrainians” — Nobel Prize laureate Denis Mukwege
By early June 2022, the UN had received reports of 124 possible acts of sexual violence related to the war in Ukraine. They took place in Chernihiv, Dnipropetrovsk, Donetsk, Kharkiv, Kherson, Kyiv, Luhansk, Mykolaiv, Vinnytsia, Zaporizhzhia, Zakarpattia, and Zhytomyr regions. These crimes have no limitation period. The rapists may stand trial in Ukraine, but those who pushed the Russian military to do so will also be brought to answer. The 2018 Nobel Peace Prize winner, gynecologist Denis Mukwege received the award for helping women raped during the Congolese wars.
Dr. Mukwege has become the worldʼs leading expert on how to treat the consequences of sexual violence. He was one of the first to say that the military rape not for sexual pleasure but to intimidate the population and began to oppose such means of warfare. Mukwege helps women from many countries around the world, including Ukrainian women. During the recent Justice Week in The Hague, he met with Prosecutor General of Ukraine Iryna Venediktova. In his interview with the ‘Babel’ journalist Oksana Kovalenko, Denis Mukwege muses what needs to be done to ensure that women are not afraid to testify against their Russian rapists.
“When rape or other sexual violence occurs during the war when a woman is raped in front of her husband, children, parents, it is an effective and prepared tool of war, itʼs another weapon. In this way, the military destroys social ties, the structure of society, and the family. And when the military rape women, men, and children, they do so not for sexual pleasure but to show that they have the power and strength to destroy their victims mentally. Humiliate to impair peopleʼs ability to resist so that the community cannot oppose the enemy. I spoke to several victims of such violence in Ukraine. And I think what is happening in Ukraine now, all this rape, the sexual violence being done to women and children, is a real tool and weapon of war. This is a war going on in womenʼs bodies.”