Sviatohirsk, Donetsk Oblast, 9-11 December 2019 – One in five women in Ukraine between 15-49 has experienced at least one form of physical or sexual violence in her lifetime. And despite many countries having strong national policies and frameworks to eliminate such violence, there is a gap between legislative norms and the actual experiences of women and girls.
At a regional forum that took place in Sviatohirsk in Donetsk Oblast on 9-11 December 2019, representatives of international and local NGOs, officials from local authorities, and representatives from local courts and law-enforcement in Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts took part in a discussion about the scale of gender-based violence in eastern Ukraine and what coordinated steps should be taken to eliminate it.
The forum was organized by the UN Refugee Agency and UNDP under the UN Recovery and Peacebuilding Programme, with financial support of the U.S. government (the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration) and the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
“The government of Ukraine is primarily responsible for its territory and the people in it,” said UNHCR’s Senior Protection Officer Umar Yakhyaev. “We’re happy to see that Free Legal Aid Centres are making a strong move towards working with cases of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV).”
“We’re happy to see there is a reaction from the police to strengthen effective of response to SGBV cases,” Yakhyaev added. “It’s good to see that the government is striving to apply a survivor-centred approach in their work with SGBV survivors. The international humanitarian community is here to provide support during these difficult times.”
The fruitful discussions at the forum were primary focused on ways to increase effectiveness when addressing and preventing sexual and gender-based violence in Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts, legal help for those affected by violence, and difficulties facing women who live close to the “contact line.” Participants paid particular attention to legal instruments for preventing and combatting domestic violence, flawed legislation and legal problems in this area.
Participants joined efforts to prepare and then present an algorithm for joint action by the police, prosecutors and judges to prevent domestic abuse.
“The fight against domestic violence is a systematic and multi-dimensional task that encompasses increasing citizen awareness, providing timely psychological and social support and help to those affected by violence, increasing women’s and girls’ economic empowerment, and much more,” stressed Community Security and Social Cohesion Specialist of the UN Recovery and Peacebuilding Programme Rustam Pulatov.
“The UN Recovery and Peacebuilding Programme couldn’t ignore this, that’s why we’ve been doing extensive work in this area,” Pulatov added.
For instance, this summer the UN Recovery and Peacebuilding Programme launched an updated version of the Your Rights mobile application – a universal legal guide for people affected by the conflict in eastern Ukraine, as well as for people who have suffered from sexual and gender-based violence and trafficking.
Iryna Pavlyk, Protection Specialist, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), firstname.lastname@example.org or +380 63 576 1839
Maksym Kytsiuk, Communications Associate, UN Recovery and Peacebuilding Programme, email@example.com or +380 63 576 1839
UNHCR is grateful for the generous support provided by donors, including the European Union’s Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO); the Governments of Canada, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom (DFID), the United States of America (PRM) as well as Private Citizens who are contributing funds through different UNHCR private associations such as España con ACNUR and the UNO Flüchtlingshilfe of Germany.
The UN Recovery and Peacebuilding Programme is being implemented by four UN agencies: The United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the UN Entity for Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment (UN Women), the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
The programme is supported by 11 international partners: the European Union, the European Investment Bank, and the governments of the United Kingdom, Denmark, Canada, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Sweden, Switzerland and Japan.