Gender, money and power determine perceptions of justice and security in Ukraine - new UNDP report

Mar 1, 2017

Poverty is a bigger concern than the conflict, and women and poorer people feel significantly more insecure, new report shows

Kyiv - UNDP launched a new report on ‘Justice and Security: Perspectives of Communities in Three Oblasts’. This report was undertaken as part of the Rule of Law and Community Justice Project, funded by the Netherlands, and comes under the umbrella of UNDP’s Recovery and Peacebuilding Programme in Ukraine.

The report has revealed that for the most issues the responses are very similar across the oblasts. Apart from some differences for people living within 20km of the contact line, people in all three oblasts have similar concerns and attitudes. By contrast, our report shows that there are very clear differences based on economic status, gender and to a lesser extent, whether people live in rural or urban areas. Among the key findings revealed by the research, there are the following:

-        Women and poorer people have a significantly lower level of trust in the police and justice system than others, and two thirds of women in all oblasts do not feel safe outside after dark; one third do not even feel safe in their own homes at night.

-        There are several issues that are seen as “major problems” in urban areas more than in rural areas: corruption, drug abuse, environmental pollution, and people traumatized by the conflict.

-        Women, children, the elderly and people with disabilities are perceived to be less safe than others in the community. At the same time, there was not much concern about tension between host communities and IDPs. Generally, IDPs and religious minorities, are thought of as equally safe as the general population. Generally, this was echoed by IDPs who, in all oblasts, stated that they were living in harmony with their host communities although 1 in ten of IDPs surveyed thought that tension with host communities was a serious concern.

Around a quarter of the population surveyed in Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts, and 10% of those in  Zhytomyr oblast, said they did not have enough money for food. Conversely, only around 5% of people surveyed said they had money for luxuries such as electronics.  When asked about major concerns, poverty and unemployment are always at the top of peoples’ list – over 80% of people name these two as ‘major concerns’ in all locations. Even respondents living within 20 km of the contact line, said that the issues that caused them most concern were largely economic. For example, in Donetsk oblast, only 63% of people living close to the contact line listed shelling as a major concern, compared to 97% who said poverty was a major concern.  

Similarly, when asked about which crimes are common, economic crimes are the highest on peoples’ radar: people perceive that petty theft, followed by house burglary are the most common crimes.  Although people are most concerned about violent crime, they do not perceive as extremely prevalent.

“Without effective and trusted mechanisms to redress grievances, the roots of conflict and social instability will remain, and efforts at economic growth and political stabilization will be undermined. At the very least, the perception that justice is for the rich and powerful undermines trust in the rule of law, at worst it has catastrophic effects which can even lead to conflict” – underlined Janthomas Hiemstra, UNDP Country Director.