Ten unknown facts about domestic violence in Ukraine: a joint EU/UNDP Project releases new poll results

Jan 15, 2010

Nearly half of Ukrainian population suffered from domestic violence in their lives, and 30% were subjected to violence in their childhood age. Women more often suffer from domestic violence in their adult life, while men – in their childhood, as a new public poll suggests.

The survey looked at violence in Ukrainian families, with its scope and in-depth analysis being conducted for the first time over the past 10 years in Ukraine. The poll was carried out by GfK Ukraine and commissioned by "Equal Opportunities and Women’s Rights in Ukraine Programme", a joint project of the European Union and UN Development Programme in Ukraine.

"The problem of violence in the family is a pressing matter within Ukrainian  society.  We hope that the results of the opinion poll will draw attention of officials, journalists and of the civil society to this issue. As with their help, it will be possible to develop efficient tools to prevent and overcome this horrendous phenomenon,” said UNDP Country Director Ricarda Rieger at the presentation of the survey results.

Head of Operations / Co-ordinator for Cooperation of the Delegation of European Union to Ukraine Laura Garagnani said that EU-led actions focused on reminding States of their dual responsibility to prevent and respond to home violence and violence against women and children.

"I do believe that the financial support European Union has provided to Programmes focused on women’s and children’s protection will encourage Ukrainian Government to put in place prevention strategies and strategies for the protection and support of victims of violence at all levels (local, national, regional), and in all sectors of society, in particular by politicians, the public and private sectors, civil society and the media," she said.

"The aim of the survey was to assess the extent to which violence exists in Ukrainian families and to identify the most affected population groups, to demonstrate public attitudes towards this type of violence", explained InnaVolosevich, GfK Ukraine Senior Manager for Social and Political Surveys.

An additional task of the survey was to assess the level of public trust in the institutions that provide assistance in domestic violence cases, in particular, bodies of interior affairs, shelters, social service and crisis centres, hospitals, and courts. The survey also exposed certain facts of violence comitted against elderly people, widows/widowers, and disabled people.

Domestic violence – whether physical, economic, sexual or psychological – is one of the most serious violations of human rights, the right to life and physical/psychological inviolability. Safety and equal treatment of women, which constitute the foundation of human rights, must become key conditions and minimum standards for all countries, especially those that already are or striving to become worthy EU members, as experts argue.

Men’s violence against women had always been regarded as 'private family matter', which only concerned women to a certain degree, and it is only over the last 40 years that this problem has been discussed as a problem of society as a whole, since violence concerns not only women who suffer from it, but society in general. It also concerns children who become victims or witnesses of violence.

The main facts uncovered as a result of the survey include the fact that44% of Ukrainians suffered from domestic violence in their lives, 30%suffered from violence in their childhood. Almost half of the people who suffered from violence in their childhood also had to face it in their adulthood.

In addition, the experts highlighted the following findings:

·        Women more often faced domestic violence in their adult lives (33% versus 23% of men), whereas men more often faced it in their childhood (34% versus 27% of women).

·        35% of Ukrainians suffered from psychological violence (most often – continuous humiliation and controlling behaviour), 21% - from physical violence (beatings, locking up, tying up, standing without movement), 17% - from economic violence (need to report even very small expenses, fraudulent appropriation or destruction of property), 1% - from sexual violence (rape).

·        Most victims cited alcoholic intoxication as the main cause of various violence situations.

·        Respondents most often suffered from psychological, physical and economic violence of the father or husband, less often – mother, and even less often - wife. Sexual violence was most often committed by men against their wives.

·        About 75% of victims of different types of violence never asked for help, others mostly turned to their relatives.

·        Only 10% of victims of physical violence sought assistance from bodies of interior affairs. 47% of all the respondents believe that physical violence must be reported to the police, 45% trust the police.

·        52% of respondents trust psychological services, 46% - NGOs that combat violence and help victims, 40% - state social services, but only 1-2% of victims of domestic violence sought assistance from these organizations.

·        In 2009, 7% of Ukrainians suffered from domestic violence, most often in Kyiv and Northern regions, villages, young people under 30, without a higher education. Moreover, accordingly to the research, violence is equally present in rich and poor families, but victims of violence more often are not breadwinners in their families.

The survey was administered in November-December 2009 based on a nationally representative sample and covered 1,800 respondents aged 18 and older.

In addition, mass media content was analysed for information about domestic violence and famous Ukrainian experts were interviewed in the frame of the survey.

Read full poll results (presentation, in Ukrainian) here.

The final data of the survey and analysis will be used to develop recommendations aimed at improving the national system of prevention and fighting domestic violence.

About the Project: Equal Opportunities and Women’s Rights in Ukraine is a joint project of the European Union, the Swedish International Development Agency (Sida) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The national partner for the project implementation is the Ministry of Family, Youth and Sports of Ukraine. The general purpose of the project is to support public and civil society institutions in ensuring gender equality in Ukraine. The project runs from 2008 until 2011.

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