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“They pushed me on the bed, crushed me with a machine gun”: a Ukrainian woman recounts her rape by Russian soldiers

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Wife of a Ukrainian soldier, Elena (first name changed) was denounced by the inhabitants of her town, in the region of Kherson (south of the country), to the Russians. Raped for hours by two soldiers, she told AFP about her ordeal.

Her husband at the front and their four children sent to the center of the country to flee the Russian occupation, she remained there in order to evacuate their property. While she was in a grocery store one afternoon, around 3:00 p.m., some Russians came in and chatted with customers. One of the residents then pointed her out.

“”It’s a “banderovka” (name given to those nostalgic for Stepan Bandera, an ultranationalist Ukrainian leader who collaborated with Nazi Germany)”. “” It is because of people like her that this war broke out “”, he would have said, according to her, to the soldiers. “She is the wife of a soldier”.

Understanding the danger, Elena then returned to her home. “I barely had time to get home when the two Russian soldiers entered through the door behind me. I didn’t have time to pick up my phone to call for help, or to do anything,” she told our colleagues.

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“I’m disgusted. I don’t want to live anymore”

“Without a word, they pushed me onto the bed, crushed me with a machine gun and stripped me naked. They hardly spoke, except sometimes to call me ‘banderovka’ or say to each other ‘your turn’. And then, around 4 a.m., they left because it was time to go and take their shifts” in their camp.

Elena says she hasn’t told anyone yet. “I’m a midwife, I administered first aid myself,” she said. “I will find everything I need when I arrive at my destination, I just want to find my children”.

“I’m disgusted. I no longer want to live,” she said.

“There may be hundreds, even thousands, of women and girls raped”

A testimony like that of Elena heightens fears of the use of rape as a “weapon of war” in Ukraine. The Ukrainian section of the NGO La Strada, which defends women’s rights, has so far received on its toll-free number “calls concerning seven cases of rape of Ukrainian women and children by Russian occupiers”.

She expects much higher figures when the shock and the shock of the victims begins to dissipate. “There may be hundreds, even thousands, of women and young girls raped,” said association leader Aliona Kryvouliak. One testimony related to “the gang rape of a mother and her 17-year-old daughter by three men”.

“Russian soldiers have committed sexual violence against Ukrainian women and men, against children and the elderly,” said in a statement released this week the Prosecutor General of Ukraine Iryna Venediktova.

If the calls to collect evidence, a very difficult thing, are launched, Elena hopes above all to be able to make her executioners pay for their actions. “I am sure that Ukraine will take back these territories from Russian soldiers and ours will take revenge on them. And I won’t point the finger at those locals who pointed the finger at me. I will point them out to my husband,” she promised.

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