Violence against women in Ukraine

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Violence against women is an entrenched social problem in Ukrainian culture engendered by traditional male and female stereotypes.[1][2] It was not recognized during Soviet era, but in recent decades the issue became an important topic of discussion in Ukrainian society and among academic scholars.

Current situation[edit]

Nuzhat Ehsan, UN Population Fund representative in Ukraine, stated in February 2013 “Ukraine really has an unacceptable level of violence, mainly by men and mainly due to high level of alcohol consumption”. He also blamed loopholes in the legislation contribute to the problem of domestic violence, “You can violate women and still if you are a high-level official or from a high-level official family, you can get away with it”.[3]

In the view of traditional morale norms the Ukrainian women are supposed "to be beautiful and to be a mother". Moreover, the gender traditions in Ukraine tend to restrict women from holding positions of political power, while standards of male behaviour include being protective of women. The ongoing War in Donbass in Ukraine's Donbass region is believed to have reinforced the separation of gender responsibilities.[4] But the UN reports the Ukrainian women living in the conflict zone are at significant risk due to weak law enforcement, high concentration of military groups and proliferation of weapons.[5]

In 2015 the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights expressed a deep concern about rapidly worsening situation with violence against women in Ukraine.[6] According to the estimation of OSCE the violence towards women is widespread in Ukraine and it is associated with three times more deaths than the ongoing War in Donbass in the Donbass region of Ukraine.[7]

History and extent[edit]

According to latest UN Report around 45 percent of Ukraine's population (45 million) suffers violence – physical, sexual or mental – and most of them are women.[3] From the historical point of view the problem of violence against women in Ukraine was always surrounded by silence. There are not too many sources of official statistics to estimate how deep the problem is. This fact also brings understanding that the mass media is unsure how to approach the issue, the authorities do not know how to deal with the manifestations of the violence and the nation doesn't know how to mobilize the public to end the violence.[8] As a result, all national anti-violence efforts rely on considerable support from Western donors[9] A few available statistics indicate that the violence inherent in the poverty where most part of Ukrainian women live. The recorded data also demonstrate that the observed value is just a minor fraction of a real figure due to a combined influence of traditions and personal shame.[10]

Domestic violence[edit]

In Ukraine domestic violence towards women has a long history. There are evidences that the model of male aggressiveness directed towards women is transferred from generation to generation. Recent studies reveal that violence against women is not limited to any particular segment of the Ukrainian population and occurs across all social layers. There are not many Ukrainian women who have achieved economic independence and own their own home.[11] According to recent research violence against women remains a hidden problem, but it is clear that the ongoing War in Donbass in Ukraine leads to an increase in its prevalence.[12]

In early 2020 there were barely any women's shelters in Ukraine.[13]

Sexual exploitation[edit]

The sexual exploitation of women is also a broad and serious problem in Ukrainian society. This issue consists of women's trafficking on the transnational markets and coercive prostitution. It comes up as a result of many factors including the impoverishment of significant part of population, soft pornography widely used by Ukrainian mass media to catch an attention of customers, and so on. Statistical data reported by NGOs state that up to one third of young jobless Ukrainian women have been involved to some degree in illegal sex business activities.[14]

Violence against children[edit]

A survey of young Ukrainian girls performed by All-Ukrainian Committee for the Protection of Children reveals that a sexual abuse of them accounts for high proportion of the abuse victims. For example, it was reported that one Ukrainian girl out of three had experienced sexual harassment, one out of five had suffered physical sexual abuse, one out of ten had been raped. Criminal statistics reports that 55% of registered sexual assaults in Ukraine are directed towards youth under 18, and 40% of them or 22% in total - towards children under 14[15] .

Legal base[edit]

In February 2019 domestic violence was made a criminal offense in Ukraine meaning perpetrators could be fined, or sentenced to community service or a prison sentence.[13] Previously perpetrators could be subjected to a maximum of administrative punishment.[13] According to The Ukrainian Week about 5% of victims report violence to the Ukrainian police.[13]


  1. ^ Kobelyanska 2000, p. 76, 78.
  2. ^ K4D Report 2017, p. 7, Gender norms.
  3. ^ a b Kyivans join global rally to end violence against women, Kyiv Post (14 February 2013)
  4. ^ K4D Report 2017, p. 6-7, Gender norms.
  5. ^ K4D Report 2017, p. 2-3, Humanitarian impacts.
  6. ^ OHCHR publishes alarming report on increased violence against women in Ukraine (2 March 2015)
  7. ^ The OSCE draws attention to violence against women in Ukraine (7 March 2018)
  8. ^ Kobelyanska 2000, p. 76, Historical Background to Violence Against Women.
  9. ^ Hrycak 2012.
  10. ^ Kobelyanska 2000, p. 77, Historical Background to Violence Against Women.
  11. ^ Kobelyanska 2000, p. 77, Domestic Violence in Ukraine.
  12. ^ K4D Report 2017, p. 6, Domestic violence.
  13. ^ a b c d (in Ukrainian) Where they will not find, The Ukrainian Week, (16 February 2020)
  14. ^ Kobelyanska 2000, p. 80, Sexual Exploitation of Women.
  15. ^ Kobelyanska 2000, p. 78-79, Violence against Children.


  • Kobelyanska, Larysa (2000). "Violence and Trafficking in Women in Ukraine". Making the Transition Work for Women in Europe and Central Asia. World Bank Publications. ISBN 0-8213-4662-8.
  • Hrycak, Alexandra (2012). "Global Campaigns to Combat Violence against Women:Theorizing Their Impact in Post-Communist Ukraine". Gender, Politics and Society in Ukraine. University of Toronto Press. ISBN 978-1-4426-4064-1.
  • Lucas, Brian (2017). "Gender and conflict in Ukraine" (PDF). K4D Knowledge, Evidence and Learning for Development. Retrieved 6 September 2018.

External links[edit]

  • Ukrainian National Hotline for Prevention of Domestic Violence, Trafficking in Persons and Gender Discrimination: 0 800 500 335 or 116 123