She also said she would investigate allegations that women in the armed forces had been threatened with being sent to psychiatric units for raising allegations of sexual harassment.
Ukraine’s deputy defence minister Hanna Maliar has vowed to help pursue army commanders credibly accused of sexual harassment through the courts. This comes after allegations of “unacceptable” behaviour were raised by a female soldier speaking to The Guardian.
Maliar, a lawyer by training, called on those who claimed to have been targeted to meet her, after a whistleblower alleged that a commander in a combat unit had ordered female subordinates to have sex with him or face their husbands being sent to the front.
She also said she would investigate allegations that women in the armed forces had been threatened with being sent to psychiatric units for complaining about sexual harassment, warning the accused that she would personally take any credible cases to the police.
The Guardian reported that these allegations were made last week by a platoon sergeant, Nadiya Haran, 27, who said she was forced to seek transfer from her previous unit after raising the cases with senior officers who told her to “shut up”.
In her message, Maliar emphasized that the scale and severity of such crimes pose a huge challenge for Ukrainian society.
“This is not just violence on a sexual basis, it is a conscious policy of the enemy state aimed at intimidation, demoralization, and degradation of the dignity of our civilian population.”
Meanwhile, Ukrainian police have identified 171 victims of sexual violence by Russian military personnel, First Lady Olena Zelenska had said at the United for Justice international conference in Lviv on March 4.
“This figure is not limited to women – 39 men and 13 minors are among the victims,” said Zelenska.
These cases became known only because the victims have the courage to report the abuse, she said, adding that the real number of victims could be much higher as many suffer in silence.
Zelenska stressed that punishing the Russians for their sexual and other war crimes should serve as a precedent of the inevitability of punishment.
Natalia Karbowska, Co-Founder and Director of Strategic Development for the Ukrainian Women’s Fund, had said that the Russian Federation is using sexual violence and rape as instruments of terror to control civilians.
As of the end of 2022, Ukrainian law enforcement officials have recorded 155 cases of sexual violence associated with Russia’s war against Ukraine, with the highest number of cases reported from Kherson and Kyiv Oblasts, according to The New Voice of Ukraine.