: Rape victims and Ukrainian culture that often holds them responsible
Opinion18:08 Jul. 18, 2016

Rape victims and Ukrainian culture that often holds them responsible

A social campaign has started in Ukraine in support of women and men who suffered from rape and sexual abuse. Our expert Anna Dovgopol shares her thoughts on the results of the initiative

A few days ago Ukrainian journalist Anastasiya Melnychenko started a social campaign on Facebook, titled #IAmNotAfraidToSayIt. The campaign encourages women that suffered from rape and sexual harassment, to share their stories, bringing the sexual violence issue to the light. Effect has been drastic as many victims, including men, started telling about the horrors they had endured in the past.

Anna Dovgopol, a сооrdinator of the gender democracy program at the Heinrich Boell Foundation in Ukraine, joins Ukraine Today to talk about the campaign.

"The immediate effect of this campaign, which I can see, is that this is a group therapy. Many women who used to think that it is their own fault, it is the issue that only they struggled with, can now see that this is sa systematic issue. It's not individual, and many women go through it because of the system. Because of how the culture works. And it's not their fault, it's the fault of the perpetrator who is usually a man."

Sometimes the rape victims blame themselves for being sexually abused. "I shouldn't have been dressed this way. I shouldn't have been alone outside," they often think. The feel of guilt and shame is only signified by the comments of many others, making the same allegations towards the victims.

"So our culture is so deeply paternical that women also do not persive it as violence. They are all often ashamed to go the police. They are ashamed to bring their problems in their families to the light. Even though their husband can beat them, they can still say, "Oh, I'm so sorry for him, I don't want him to be punished, because I love him."

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