Ukraine: Update to UKR34547.E of 6 June 2000 on the protection available to victims of spousal abuse or domestic violence; avenues of redress for women who have been stalked, harassed or sexually assaulted by a former husband; names and locations of state-run shelters, agencies providing counselling, financial support or any other form of assistance to victims of spousal abuse (June 2000-February 2002)
|Publisher||Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada|
|Author||Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board, Canada|
|Publication Date||14 March 2002|
|Citation / Document Symbol||UKR38440.E|
|Cite as||Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Ukraine: Update to UKR34547.E of 6 June 2000 on the protection available to victims of spousal abuse or domestic violence; avenues of redress for women who have been stalked, harassed or sexually assaulted by a former husband; names and locations of state-run shelters, agencies providing counselling, financial support or any other form of assistance to victims of spousal abuse (June 2000-February 2002), 14 March 2002, UKR38440.E, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3df4bebec.html [accessed 10 December 2013]|
|Disclaimer||This is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.|
According to Daryna Zholdak, the publishing coordinator for Winrock International, an Arkansas-based "nonprofit organization that works with people around the world to increase economic opportunity, sustain natural resources, and protect the environment" (Winrock International 2000), 68 per cent of Ukrainian women are victims of domestic abuse (Kyiv Post 11 Oct. 2001). Referring to the same percentage, the Institute of Sociological Studies under the Ukrainian National Academy of Science adds that 25 per cent of these women are beaten "as a rule" or "often" (Women's Perspectives 2001). By contrast, the results of a survey conducted in 2000 by Project Harmony in Odessa (southern Ukraine) reveal that 53 per cent of women in Odessa suffered domestic physical abuse (Kyiv Post 11 Oct. 2001).
For information on the general situation of domestic violence in Ukraine and a description of the assistance available in Kiev to victims of domestic abuse, please see the attached The Ukrainian Weekly article.
On 15 November 2001, President Leonid Kuchma signed the Law On the Prevention of Family Violence (Ukraine 15 Nov. 2001). Please see the attached English translation of the law.
According to the Kyiv Post, the limited nature of protection and assistance available to women victims of domestic violence in Ukraine is illustrated by the existence of only three shelters nation-wide (11 Oct. 2001).
The city of Berdychiv (western Ukraine) was selected by the drafters of a bill on domestic violence as the place where they would test provisions of the bill (ibid.). Under the supervision of a coalition of 50 members from different backgrounds, the experiment has resulted in the creation of a hotline open to victims of domestic violence, a shelter which offers counselling, sensitizing activities in schools and a support group for male abusers involving Anatoly Vasylovych, the head of the local police department (ibid.). Supported by the Ministry of Interior, the involvement of the police department in the experiment also included training sessions which, according to the police chief, helped police officers "understand" the need to "pay more attention to" cases of domestic violence (ibid.). The police department also changed its procedures regarding cases of domestic violence: While these cases were considered as "family squabbles" and not recorded in the past, now every case is documented in a computer record (ibid.). The police department was expecting the introduction of a "blue card" system, already in use in Poland, under which every case of domestic violence is recorded on a blue card; an abuser who has three blue cards must be prosecuted (ibid.). Yet, the introduction of the new system has been stalled owing to the lack of funds to print the cards (ibid.). According to Police Chief Vasylovych, a growing number of women victims of domestic violence call for help as a result of the experiment (ibid.). However, he acknowledged that the lack of a legal definition of domestic violence and the absence of specific penalties in Ukrainian legislation resulted in the fact that no case of domestic violence had been prosecuted in Berdychiv (ibid.). A case of domestic violence can only be prosecuted as "hooliganism," which is a "relatively minor offense" (ibid.).
Referring to efforts made in other communities to address domestic violence, the Ukrainian English-language daily Kyiv Post mentions that numerous new "abuse centers" appeared in communities around Berdychiv, while in Lviv (western Ukraine), a priest runs a hotline open to victims of domestic violence on a voluntary basis (ibid.).
Between June and August 2000, the Lviv-based Women's Perspectives centre conducted a survey among 268 women who asked the following organizations for assistance: Women to Women Centre, Regional Centre for Social Adaptation, Zaliznychnyi district employment centre, Women's Health Centre, Altaros centre for independent examination and Kyiv oblast forensic examination agency (Women's Perspectives 2001a; ibid. 2001b, 3). According to the survey, fifty-nine per cent of the respondents have been victims of domestic violence on the part of a relative or a sexual partner (ibid., 4). Asked about the organization(s) they contacted for assistance, 66.7 per cent of the victims named police, 42 per cent medical institutions, 26.1 per cent a "church," 14.5 per cent social agencies, 13 per cent crisis centres and 4.3 per cent named non-governmental organizations (ibid., 9). Among the victims who contacted police and received assistance, 95.5 per cent deemed it "necessary" to report domestic violence to police (ibid., 10). Asked who can provide "effective assistance" in cases of domestic violence, 41.8 per cent of the respondents who have been victims of domestic violence could not answer, 21.5 per cent answered law-enforcement agencies, 12.7 per cent social agencies, and 10.1 per cent crisis centres (ibid.).
Winrock International provides the following short description of the Ukrainian organizations which participate in its project Community Response to Domestic Violence and Trafficking in Humans:
Human Rights Center "Women of Donbas"
Luhansk, [eastern] Ukraine
The regional human rights socio-educational center "Women of Donbas" was founded in June 1998 by a group of women entrepreneurs. This group was formed to provide anonymous support to women in crisis situations, especially to those, who suffer from violence and trafficking. Women in crisis situations and their relatives were given informational, psychological and legal assistance.
After the official registration in July 1999, the Center opened a hotline for women victims of violence. The Center, in conjunction with the Luhansk Regional Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs facilitated two violence prevention and women's human rights trainings. This helped to form a group of volunteers who now facilitate educational activities directed on violence prevention in schools. The Center participated in preparation of several TV programs about trafficking in women and helped to return 17 women who were trafficked from abroad.
"Women's Information Coordinator Center"
Women for Women Center
Dnipropetrovsk, [eastern] Ukraine
The Center was founded in 1995 by an initiative group of women with higher education, who work in different spheres: education, economics, business, arts and state government.
The Center's activities consist of the following:
– Informational support for women's organizations and cultural communities, creative groups and businesswomen.
– Design and implementation of educational programs, including conferences, seminars, training, roundtables, discussions about gender equality, women's leadership, women's human rights, prevention of violence against women, opening small business, job search, women's adaptation in crisis society, healthy life style.
– Legal consultations for women in crisis situations.
Currently, there are two programs at the Women for Women Center: a Job Skills Training Program and a Violence Prevention Program. The Job Skills Program includes training courses on starting a small business, the job search process, computer training, basic English courses and legal consultations concerning employment. The Violence Prevention Program includes a hotline for women in crisis situations, self-help groups, legal consultations and a training program
Western Ukrainian Center "Women's Perspectives"
Women for Women Center
Since December 1998 Western Ukrainian Center "Women's Perspectives" has been implementing the Trafficking Prevention Project-the Women for Women Center. Center's activities are directed to women's economic, legal and social adaptation in time of economic crisis, prevention of violence against women and providing social and legal assistance to women in crisis situations. The Center's target group is women between 15-35 years of age. The Center currently has two programs: a Skills Training Program and a Violence Prevention Program. The Center also has a confidential information-consultative support line for women in crisis situations (Winrock International n.d.).
On 15 March 2001, a fourth Women to Women Center was established in Zhytomyr [western Ukraine] with the support of USAID Mission Director Christopher Crowley (Winrock International Mar. 2001). Targeting women aged 12-30, the Center offers the following services: "job skills training, domestic violence prevention services, legal consultations, medical and psychological assistance referrals, ... crisis and information hotlines" (ibid.). For information on the other Women to Women Centers and for a comprehensive description of the protection available to victims of domestic violence prior to June 2000, please see Domestic Violence in Ukraine, a report based on a fact-finding mission to Ukraine which was published by Minnesota Advocates for Human Rights in December 2000, available at
No specific information on avenues of redress for women who have been stalked, harassed or sexually assaulted by a former husband, could be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.
This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.
Kyiv Post. 11 October 2001. Katya Cengel. "Battered Woman Finding Help."
Minnesota Advocates for Human Rights [Minneapolis]. December 2000. Domestic Violence in Ukraine.
Winrock International [Morrilton, Arkansas]. Innovations. March 2001. "Fourth Women to Women Center Opens."
_____. 2000. "Mission."
_____. n.d. Community Responses to Domestic Violence & Trafficking (DOS ). Partners.
Women's Perspectives [Lviv]. 2001a. "Public Initiatives in Domestic Violence and People Trafficking Prevention."
_____. 2001b. Three Months of a Woman's Life. Research Conducted in June-August 2000.
Ukraine. Law of Ukraine on the Prevention of Family Violence. 15 November 2001. Translated by the Multilingual Translation Directorate of the Department of Public Works and Government Services Canada.
The Ukrainian Weekly [Parsippany, NJ]. 28 October 2001. Yana Sedova. "One-of-a-kind Shelter in Kyiv for Victims of Domestic Violence Reflects Societal Views."
Additional Sources Consulted
Women's International Network (WIN) News [Lexington, MA] 2001
Internet sites including:
British Helsinki Human Rights Group
The Day [Kiev] 19 February 2002
Human Rights Information Center - Ukraine
Human Rights Watch
International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights
Kharkov Center for Gender
La Strada Ukraine[Kiev]
Minnesota Advocates for Human Rights [Minneapolis]
The Network of East-West Women [Washington, DC]
Project Harmony [Waitsfield, VT]
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL)[Prague]
The Ukrainian Observer
United Nations Development Fund for Women [New York, NY]
United Nations Development Programme - Ukraine
United Nations Division for the Advancement of Women
US Department of State. Country Reports on Human Rights Practices
Violence and Abuse. Members by country [Stockholm]
Western Ukrainian Center Women's Perspectives [Lviv]
Women Against Violence Europe (WAVE) [Vienna]
Women's Human Rights Resources Group [Toronto]
World News Connection (WNC)