At least 124 cases of sexual violence have been recorded in the Russia-Ukraine war, according to a UN report, published on July 10.
Pramila Patten, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, said these figures are but “the tip of the iceberg,” and are far from reflecting the true scale of sexual violence that’s been spurred by the Russian invasion.
UN’s message said it’s difficult to verify instances of sexual violence during an ongoing conflict. The sentiment was echoed by Oleksandra Matviichuk, head of the human rights watchdog Center for Civil Liberties (CCL).
Victims of sexual violence often conceal the crime that took place in the first place, avoiding mentioning it to law enforcement and human rights organizations, Matviichuk said.
She added that while it’s clear there are a great many sexual violence incidents in Ukraine, it’s difficult to get an accurate estimate of their scale.
“In some districts, one detective is responsible for investigating around 200 such cases,” said Matviichuk.
“With so many criminal cases, no legal system in the world could possibly cope with such a task. Meanwhile, the war is ongoing, and these crimes keep mounting.”
Matviichuk also noted that some Ukrainians can’t even report sexual crimes, as roughly 20% of Ukrainian territory remains under Russian occupation.