war crimes in Ukraine

The Tribunal for Putin (T4P) global initiative was set up in response to the all-out war launched by Russia against Ukraine in February 2022.

22. Gender discrimination and violence against women



Gender discrimination and violence against women are manifested in many ways in Ukraine: domestic violence, rape, physical assault, stalking, sexual harassment etc. Domestic violence and rape have reached epidemic rate in Ukraine.  

Domestic violence represents a serious problem in Ukraine. The national system of collecting and processing of the information on domestic violence is non-existent. The internal statistics provided by the Ministry of social policy and Ministry of interior uses multiple sources and does not make distinction between various types of violence, i.e. physical, economic, sexual and psychological. The number of domestic violence cases is not decreasing. Every hour at least 15 women are subject to domestic violence.[2] According to available statistics, 68% of women in Ukraine are subject to cruelty in the family. They suffer from domestic violence more often than from robberies, rapes or motor accidents altogether. 35-50% of women that end up in the hospitals with bodily injuries are the victims of domestic violence[3].

Here are the figures characterizing the scope of domestic violence in Ukraine in 2013:

Reports on facts of violence– 160 730 persons.

Registered – 88 162 individuals including:

Men – 79 986;

Women – 77 908;

Children – 757.

Registered total – 93 422.

Official warning issued to 89 168 persons.

Administrative charges lodged on the request of 108 467 persons:

District inspector sued 106 144 individuals.

 3 714 persons  referred to correction programs.

Protection orders – 6 161 individuals.

In Rivne oblast’, for example, 3800 individuals are on the preventive list for committing domestic violence, including 3572 men, 217 women and 11 minors[4]. In Kharkiv 2 512 complaints involving domestic violence were filed with law enforcement bodies over the 9 months of 2013. 500 of those were  repeated felonies.[5] Children are the main victims of domestic violence, and they are well-known for replicating behaviors. [6]

Inefficiency of law is one of the causes for the spreading of this phenomenon.

The victims of domestic violence face double discrimination and double violation of their rights as, having suffered from violence, they then encounter total indifference on the part of state authorities and law enforcement bodies as they file complaints and petitions trying to protect their rights.   In particular, over the 9 months of 2013 the hot line “La Strada-Ukraina” Center received   225 complaints on lack of action on behalf of militia, state and local self-governance bodies.   

We are talking not only about the faults of the Law of Ukraine “On preventing domestic violence”, but also about the new Criminal procedural code of Ukraine that had narrowed the competence of the district militia inspectors in handling the complaints on domestic violence, and also referred the non-grave crimes and crimes of medium gravity committed within the family to the private incrimination competence.  It means that the state will step up to protect a woman only after she is dead or seriously mutilated.   

In February 2013 the Department of Children and Young Adults under the Ministry of social policy of Ukraine proceeded to set up a working group for the improvement of legislation preventing domestic violence. The group discussed the draft law “On preventing and combating domestic violence”; in summer 2013 it was significantly amended in compliance with observations made by academic-expert Directorate of the Supreme Rada of Ukraine and independent experts (the new version is to be submitted to replace the earlier draft law). The inter-departmental working group also discussed the implementation of correction programs for the persons guilty of domestic violence, approval of the uniform program by the Ministry of social policy, i.e. developing the bottom-line standards for social services offered to people who have become victims of domestic violence. The Department for families and children under the Ministry of social policy of Ukraine started the introducing of changes in the procedure of reporting cruelty against children or real threat of it etc. The experts from the Bureau of democratic institutes and human rights  under the OSCE, presenting the expert conclusion to the draft law #2539, specifically stressed the need for precise definition of the terms of references between various official bodies in preventing and counteracting domestic violence; collection and dissemination of statistical data on domestic violence; possibility of state funding for the NGOs addressing the issues of  preventing and counteracting domestic violence; and increase of responsibility for committing acts of domestic violence.[7]

The rapes also fall under the category of private cases. It is also a most crucial problem for Ukrainian society and women specifically. Over the period between the years 2009-2011 7 thousand rape complaints were submitted to the internal affairs bodies. Only two thousand criminal cases were filed with subsequent investigation. By the beginning of 2012 the courts had 232 unresolved rape cases. Even the cases which are filed with the militia offices are not handled properly. The majority of victims, therefore, prefer to keep silent instead of approaching official or law enforcement bodies, being afraid of their assailants, militia officials and public ostracism. As a result, they get no help at all.   

Primary and secondary help to women-victims of domestic violence is not provided appropriately. It is mostly offered by the non-governmental organizations. Thus, in 2013 “La Strada-Ukraina” Center provided social assistance and monitoring of the cases related to violence against women and children: 9 cases of domestic violence and children’s rights’protection; 2 cases of domestic violence against Ukrainian citizens abroad (in Macedonia and Palestine); 1 case against Uzbekistan citizen who suffered from domestic violence in Montenegro (the case started in late  2012). Among the types of assistance offered by the Center were psychological, social and pedagogical, economic, legal, information services, search for people abroad and assistance in their return to Ukraine; help in establishing/renewing contacts with families, temporary placements in shelters, legal support and court representation etc. Assistance was granted due to sponsors’ funding and charity donations.The state did not contribute a penny.  

In April 2013 the results of monitoring of institutions and facilities for the victims of domestic violence were made public as a part of social program “Let’s say NO to domestic violence” launched by AVON. The monitoring revealed a lot of faults in their operation. 51 institutions were monitored. The main problem is that although centers offering support to the people in complicated situations exist in oblast’s, they are not specialized: the ex-convicts released from prisons, orphans and a woman with a child chased out of home by her husband end up under the same roof.    The specialized centers are to be set up by the local authorities. The existing centers are not enough, their number and quality fail to meet the standards established by the Council of Europe.  

The National hot line to counteract human trafficking and National hot line to counteract domestic violence and protect children’s rights have been reformed in late 2012. As a result, on January 1, 2013 the National hot line to counteract human trafficking, domestic violence and gender discrimination and the National hot line for children started their operation under “La Strada-Ukraina” Center. In 2013  7 036 calls were made to the National hot line, including  92.3% on the issues of domestic violence and gender discrimination and 7.7% – on issues of human trafficking.  69.7% calls were made by women,  30.3% - by men. 66. 6%  of consultations referred to information, 19.7% – to legal issues,   12.2% – to psychological issues, 15% consultations were given by the invited experts. 1288 on-line consultations were provided. In November   2013 weekly consultations on the Internet (via Skype) were introduced. 11 consultations have already been conducted.  

27.4% consultations addressed domestic violence; 5.4%  covered emergency situations.  11.7% consultations concerned psychological issues, 10.3% - to personal relations, 15.1% - divorce and related issues, 3.2% - consultations involving social help.

The site, managed by “La Strada-Ukraina” Center specialists has been in operation for over 2 years. Actually it is the first client-oriented site in Ukraine aimed at assisting women that had experienced domestic violence. There one could find information related to domestic violence, possible ways of resolving the issue, names and addresses of services and offices providing help to the victims of domestic violence.  It is also possible to seek counseling from “La Strada-Ukraina” Center psychologists, either on-line, or by calling the number of the National hot line for prevention of domestic violence -  0 800 500 335 or 386.

A handbook “Social and corrective work with individuals guilty of committing domestic violence” (in two volumes) was published in 2013. The academic/methodological edition addresses the issues of social and corrective work with individuals guilty of committing domestic violence, methods of organizing and conducting this work.  In Kharkiv and Donetsk the training seminars for the social services employees were conducted with the use of this handbook. 85 persons participated in the training.

Another manual, “Domestic violence: current problems and ways of their solving” has also been issued within the framework of realization of the joint project “Enhancement of legal capacity of women-victims of domestic violence”, which has been implemented by three NGOs in Kiev, Kherson and Volyn’ oblasts’ with “Renaissance” foundation support.[8]

The funding of the NGOs operation, aimed at preventing domestic violence domestic violence and rendering assistance to the victims of it on the basis of social order and purchase of social services, still remains unsatisfactory. The responsibility for prevarications rests with the Ministry of social policy, which has to develop and approve the internal by-laws in line with the laws in force.

The efficient operation of the NGOs, aimed at realization of the bylaws’ provisions and various services to the public needs substantial funding, which is hardly available at the current stage of development of the civil society and social responsibility on the part of business structures. Therefore financial support offered by the governmental structures can become a serious incentive for the strengthening of the civil society structures and also move forward the social services market in Ukraine. The following normative and legal acts regulating the possibility of funding for the NGOs include the Law of Ukraine “On public organizations”, articles 22 and 23; the Law of Ukraine “On social services”, art. 1.7; the Law of Ukraine “On introducing changes to the Budget code of Ukraine” # 5428-VI [5]; Presidential Decree # 32/2012 of 25.01.2012 “Support for the development of the civil society in Ukraine”; Presidential Decree #212/2012 of March 24, 2012  "”On the state policy strategy for the development of civil society in Ukraine”; Cabinet of Ministers’ Resolution of    October 12,  2011  # 1049; Cabinet of Ministers’ Resolution of April 29, 2013 #324 "On approving the procedure for the social order funded from the budget”. On October16, 2012 the Supreme Rada of Ukraine passed the Law of Ukraine “On introducing changes to the Budget code of Ukraine”. # 5428-VI, introducing, in particular, changes to the articles 87 and 91 of the Budget code, expanding the list of public associations. The new norms of the Budget code promote the involvement of the NGOs in the implementation of the social, humanitarian, environmental and cultural projects with the budget funding.  The Cabinet of Ministers’ Resolution # 324 of April 29, 2013 "On approving the procedure for the social order funded from the budget” was passed. This procedure, in line with the Law of Ukraine “On social services” defines the mechanism of formulating, realization and funding of the social order on social services provided by the non-governmental entities, funded from the budget, as well as the procedure for organizing and conducting bidding for this funding.    The local budgets are supposed to provide the necessary funds.

From the legal stand the situation demonstrates total inertia of the state bodies in this area, and as a result – lack of opportunities to ensure financial governmental support for the NGOs implementing important social programs for the benefit of the Ukrainian citizens.  


1. Conducting a large-scope nationwide campaign on dissemination of the provisions and principles of the CE Convention # 210 on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence.  

2. Preparing for ratification and ratifying CE Convention # 210 on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence.  

3. Finalizing and adopting the Law of Ukraine “On preventing domestic violence”. Offering efficient mechanism of assistance and protection for the victims of domestic violence and allocating funds for this activity. 

4.Conducting research on the impact of the new Criminal procedural code on the militia competences, specifically, with reference to the district inspectors, in the activities, aimed at preventing domestic violence. Proposing and introducing relevant changes. 

5. The Ministry of social policy should develop internal normative documents regulating adequate funding for NGOs operations in the area of preventing domestic violence, granting assistance to the victims on the basis of the social order and purchase of the social services.

6. Revising the activities and interaction of the all the subjects involved in the process of preventing domestic violence  - from the district inspector, physician and school teacher to the social worker.

7. Devising methods and training specialists for the comprehensive work with the families known for domestic violence: with the victim, the perpetrator and the child, when applicable.  

8. More active implementation of the corrective programs for the perpetrators.


[1] Prepared by K.Levchenko, M.Yevsyukova, O.Kalashnyk, M.Lehen’ka - “La Strada-Ukraina” International Women’s   Center  









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