Ukraine: Update to UKR38440.E of 14 March 2002 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 (April 2002 - November 2004)
|Publisher||Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada|
|Author||Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board, Canada|
|Publication Date||24 November 2004|
|Citation / Document Symbol||UKR43141.E|
|Cite as||Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Ukraine: Update to UKR38440.E of 14 March 2002 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 (April 2002 - November 2004), 24 November 2004, UKR43141.E, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/42df61b720.html [accessed 23 August 2014]|
Country Reports on Human Rights Practices 2003 states that "violence against women reportedly was pervasive" in Ukraine (25 Feb. 2004, Sec. 5). According to Country Reports 2003, a new decree from 5 June 2003 "prescribed fines and arrest for domestic violence," although the effects of the new law had not been evaluated as of February 2004 (Country Reports 2003 25 Feb. 2004, Sec. 5). No other information on the 5 June 2003 decree was found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.
A United Nations (UN) report on gender issues in Ukraine states that since the Law on Prevention of Family Violence came into force in March 2002, "the Ukrainian police have registered 41,063 cases of domestic violence" (2003, 63). According to the UN report, actions taken against offenders include the issuing of official warnings and protection orders, and the transmission of information to local authorities or social services (2003, 64). In the first six months of 2003, 23,786 domestic abusers were issued an official warning, 2,723 faced a protection order and in 2,530 cases, "other authorities were informed" (UN 2003, 65).
Although the UN report indicates that the statistics are not complete due to the underreporting of domestic violence, and that there is no breakdown by gender, it also states that "the number of attempted murders and serious attacks have decreased by 35 per cent" for the first six months of 2003, compared with the same time period in 2002 and that "[t]his can be seen as a result of more preventive work" like official warnings and protection orders (ibid., 64-65).
Educational work with police officers on the application of the Law on Prevention of Family Violence adopted in November 2001 is carried out by the Department for Work with Women and the Ministry of Interior of Ukraine (ibid., 70).
A program coordinator with the Women's Information – Coordination Center in Dnipropetrovsk indicates that the Law on Prevention of Family Violence does not provide adequate protection for women since it allows investigations to take place "only in case[s] of hard body injuries and tragic consequences" (Voice of Ukraine 21 Feb. 2003). This aspect of the law is also criticized in the UN Report Gender Issues in Ukraine, which finds fault with the thinking among policy makers and in society that provocative behaviour on the part of a victim might justify domestic violence (2003, 65).
The Website "Stop Violence Against Women" describes significant new legislative developments regarding domestic violence in Ukraine (2 July 2004). Under a decree of 26 April 2003,
victims or individuals under threat of domestic violence may submit reports to any of the following agencies: a local branch of the Committee on Youth and Family Affairs of Ukraine; a local Department for Youth and Family Affairs; a neighborhood police officer; or a local department of juvenile criminal police.
Reports are accepted in verbal or written form. A written report must state the name and address of the complainant and describe the circumstances that [cause] the complainant to believe that she is under specific threat of domestic violence. The petition is then registered in the registry of petitions for the prevention of domestic violence. Reports of acts or threats of domestic violence must be accepted for consideration and thoroughly reviewed within three days of the date of submission. If a need arises to further investigate an allegation of domestic violence or circumstances leading an individual to believe that she is under specific threat of domestic violence, the report must be reviewed within seven days of its submission. An agency where a report is under review is required to immediately notify the local department of criminal police about any serious threat to the complainant's life or limb. At least one joint on-site inspection by a neighborhood police officer, and representatives of a local branch of the Committee for Youth and Family Affairs of Ukraine and a local Department for Youth and Family Affairs, is required during the review of a report of an act or threat of domestic violence. Local departments for youth and family affairs are responsible for organization of assistance, protection and rehabilitation of victims or individuals under threat of domestic violence. Information contained in reports of acts or threats of domestic violence are confidential (Stop Violence Against Women 2 July 2004).
According to the same Website, another decree of 10 May 2002 sets up a procedure for the registration of perpetrators of domestic violence. The following explanation of the decree addresses this procedure in greater detail:
Perpetrators of domestic violence are placed on preventive record pursuant to: a) a report of an act of domestic violence by a victim of domestic violence; b) a verbal utterance of concern by a victim of domestic violence in confirmation of a report of an act of domestic violence submitted by a third person; or c) information about an act of domestic violence provided by a cognizant agency (Sections 2.1-2.4). Any individual in receipt of a Preventive Warning is subject to mandatory placement on preventive record (Section 2.4). A Preventive Warning is issued against any individual who has perpetrated an act of domestic violence. (Section 3.1). Perpetrators of repeated acts of domestic violence may have a Protective Order issued against them. To become effective, a Protective Order must be sanctioned by a local district attorney or a chief of local police (Section 3.3). Victims who receive a Preventive Warning for three or more instances of provocative behavior are not entitled to a Protective Order (Section 3.2). A perpetrator of domestic violence is removed from preventive record a) following a year of non-violent behavior; b) upon his imprisonment as a result of criminal conviction; c) upon his death; d) in the event of his absence from the place of his permanent residence for more than a year; or e) upon a written petition of the victim of domestic violence (Sections 4.1.-4.5). The preventive record is transferred to a new place of residence upon relocation of a perpetrator of domestic violence and his family (Section 2.4). The provision that a perpetrator is removed from preventive record in the event of his absence from the place of his permanent residence for longer than a year may be significantly damaging to the protection of victims of domestic violence (Section 4.3). A perpetrator may simply live in a place across the street from the victim for a year, which by virtue of it not being his permanent place of residence, removes him from preventive record (Stop Violence Against Women 2 July 2004).
Further information on the avenues of redress for women who have been stalked, harassed or sexually assaulted by a former husband could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.
Support and services
The UN report on gender issues paints a picture of the situation in 2003 regarding assistance to victims of spousal abuse: only two shelters for victims, one in Kiev run by the Kiev Centre for Women and one in Kharkov run by a non-governmental organization (NGO); lack of social services housing which, according to the UN report, feeds the fear of becoming homeless and prevents women from leaving the men who are abusing them; little cooperation between medical, social and legal authorities; no rehabilitation programs for the perpetrators of domestic violence (2003).
The UN report adds that the NGO Rozrada (Consolation) offers rehabilitation for victims in the Kiev centre and that each year about 300 to 400 victims receive help, including vocational training to attain financial independence (UN 2003, 65).
Winrock International (WI) is an Arkansas-based "non-profit organization that works with people around the world to increase economic opportunity, sustain natural resources and protect the environment" (WI n.d.). WI runs a program in Ukraine, among other Eastern European countries, called "Community Response to Domestic Violence and Trafficking," which in 2003 was expanded from three to six Ukrainian cities (WI 9 Aug. 2004). The function of the program is to "prevent domestic violence and trafficking in women in...Ukraine... by strengthening the capacity of women's non-governmental organizations top promote community-based responses to these issues" (ibid.).
According to a 21 February 2003 article in the Ukrainian newspaper Voice of Ukraine (Holos Ukrayiny), The Women's Coordination Center in Dnipropetrovsk received more than 20,000 requests for help between 1998 and 2002. The centre has developed a monitoring mechanism, which uses "registration cards of the cases of domestic violence" for the Zhovtneviy district of the region (Voice of Ukraine 21 Feb. 2003). For the last three quarters of 2002, the organization has reported 1,149 confirmed cases of violence against women and 126 cases that went to court (ibid.). The centre also operates a 24-hour hot line, and professional help (lawyer, psychologist, etc.) is available (ibid.).
Country Reports 2003 mentions that there was only one municipally supported women's centre in the country (Kiev) and that there were few state-run shelters and other forms of support (25 Feb. 2004, Sec. 5).
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 for refugee protection. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.
Country Reports on Human Rights Practices 2003. 25 February 2004. "Ukraine."
Stop Violence Against Women. 2 July 2004. "Legislative Trends and New Developments."
United Nations in Ukraine. 2003. Gender Issues in Ukraine.
Voice of Ukraine (Holos Ukrainy) [Kiev, in Ukrainian]. 21 February 2003. Mykola Nechyporenko. "Harmful Love." Winrock International Website.
Winrock International (WI). 9 August 2004. "Community Response to Domestic Violence and Trafficking in Humans."
_____. n.d. "Mission."
Additional Sources Consulted
Internet sites, including: Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, The Kharkov Center for Gender Studies, The Network of East-West Women, Western Ukrainian Center "Women's Perspectives", WomenWatch, The World Federation of Ukrainian Women's Organizations.