Last Updated: Monday, 28 July 2014, 16:37 GMT

Ukraine: 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 (2005-2007)

Publisher Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
Author Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Ottawa
Publication Date 6 March 2007
Citation / Document Symbol UKR102162.E
Cite as Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Ukraine: 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 (2005-2007), 6 March 2007, UKR102162.E, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/46fa537dc.html [accessed 29 July 2014]
DisclaimerThis 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.

Situation

In 2006, the Open Society Institute (OSI) published a report based on information provided by a representative of the Western Ukrainian Center "Women's Perspectives" (OSI 2006), a non-governmental organization that provides social, economic and psychological assistance to women in the Lviv region (stopVAW n.d.). According to the report, Ukrainian authorities compile limited data on violence against women (OSI 2006). Data published by the Ministry of Internal Affairs indicates that the courts rendered 81,339 decisions about domestic violence cases in 2004; 74 percent of those sentenced were fined and 14 percent were imprisoned (OSI 2006). In the first 11 months of 2005, courts ruled on 67,639 domestic violence cases; 78 percent of those sentenced were fined and 13 percent were imprisoned, while the others received warnings or, in a few cases, were sentenced to do community work (US Mar. 2006, Sec. 5).Citing a "major NGO," the US State Department's Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2005 states that some 50 percent of Ukrainian women suffer some form of physical or psychological abuse in the home (ibid.). Corroboration of this figure could not, however, be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.

Several media and human rights sources note that human trafficking is a major concern in Ukraine (HRW Jan. 2007; AI 23 May 2006; AP 6 Sept. 2006), with domestic violence constituting an important motivating factor for women seeking to work abroad (AI 23 May 2006). Additional information on the trafficking of women in Ukraine is available in the Trafficking in Persons Report released yearly by the United States Department of State (US 5 June 2006, Sec. VI).

Legislation

The 2001 Law on Preventing Family Violence lists the organizations that are involved in the fight against domestic violence, such as crisis centres, shelters and the bodies that enforce protection orders (OSI 2006). A summary of this law is available in English on the Web site of the Ukrainian parliament (Ukraine 15 Nov. 2001). While the law prohibits perpetrators of violence from re-offending, it does not force them to leave the family home (OSI 2006). However, the Housing Code provides for tenants who regularly violate "the rules of living together" to be evicted from municipally-owned housing (ibid.). Currently, the Civil Code allows for the possibility of victims to seek financial damages if they have been the victim of a crime, and a Bill on Compensation of Victims of Violent Crimes has been drafted, although it is yet to be passed (ibid.). In addition, damages for discrimination or sexual harassment can be sought through the Law on Ensuring Equal Rights and Opportunities for Men and Women (ibid.). While Ukrainian law criminalizes rape, spousal rape is not specifically addressed (US 8 Mar. 2006, Sec. 5).

Under the Procedure for Consideration and Review of Reports of Acts or Threats of Domestic Violence (an April 2003 decree by Ukraine's Cabinet of Ministers), persons who are threatened with domestic violence may submit a verbal or written report to the following authorities:

  • a local branch of the Committee on Youth and Family Affairs of Ukraine;
  • a local Department for Youth and Family Affairs;
  • a neighbourhood police officer; or
  • a local department of juvenile criminal police. (stopVAW 11 Apr. 2006)

Protection efforts

Ukraine has ratified the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) as well as its optional protocol (AI 23 May 2006).

The Ministry of Family, Youth and Sports Affairs is responsible for gender issues, including the prevention of domestic violence (OSI 2006). In 2004, the government issued a decree establishing tighter cooperation between government institutions in the fight against domestic violence (stopVAW 10 Apr. 2006, 3). There is no section of the national budget specifically designated to alleviate domestic violence, although the state does set aside funds to support non-governmental organizations (NGOs) involved with "'children, youth, women [and] family'" (OSI 2006).

In 2005, the Ukrainian government began a national campaign to fight violence against women (HRW Jan. 2007). In 2006, the Women's Perspectives NGO noted that there were still no mandatory training programs for professionals on violence against women (OSI 2006).

Several media sources reported on Ukraine's November 2006 parliamentary hearings on preventing gender violence (Ukrainian News 14 Sept. 2006; stopVAW 21 Oct. 2006; ibid. 22 Nov. 2006). The hearings were attended by members of the national and local government and NGOs, as well as international organizations (ibid.). Leonid Grach, the head of the Parliamentary Committee on Human Rights, National Minorities and International Relations, "mentioned the low effectiveness of present legislation concerning violence against women and the lack of positive changes and low coordination between government bodies" (ibid.). The view that legislative changes were needed was echoed by Olena Bondarenko, member of parliament and head of the Sub-Committee on Gender Equality (ibid.).

In a November 2006 public statement submitted to the United Nations Human Rights Committee, Amnesty International (AI) called on the Ukrainian government to crack down on domestic violence, ensure that social and medical assistance is available to victims and avoid providing immunity to perpetrators through legislation that mentions "victim behaviour" (7 Nov. 2006). The Human Rights Committee acknowledged Ukraine's efforts taken against domestic violence, including the adoption of the Domestic Violence Act and the financing of medical and social rehabilitation and crisis centres for victims of domestic violence, but indicated that it "remains concerned about the persistence of this serious crime" (UN 28 Nov. 2006, 3). Among the concerns cited by the Committee were the unavailability of centres for women over the age of 35 and legal provisions permitting authorities to issue warnings to victims of domestic violence against acting "provocatively" (UN 28 Nov. 2006, 3; see also stopVAW 10 Apr. 2006, 3).

During a 10 November 2006 round table on domestic violence, Kateryna Levchenko, a member of parliament and La Strada, a women's NGO, presented a draft of amendments to the 2001 Law on Preventing Family Violence (STOPVAW 20 Nov. 2006). The main proposed modifications to the Law were the exclusion of the victim's "provocative behaviour" clause and the addition of correctional work as a punishment for perpetrators (ibid.).

According to Country Reports 2005, Ukrainian authorities "often pressured women not to press charges against their [abusive] husbands" (US 8 Mar. 2006, Sec. 5); this information could not be corroborated by the Research Directorate within time constraints.

NGOs

According to the Women's Perspectives NGO and Country Reports 2005, services available to women victims of violence are lacking in Ukraine (US 8 Mar. 2006, Sec. 5; OSI 2006), particularly in rural areas (ibid.). There were conflicting reports on the number of shelters available to female victims of domestic violence. Uncorroborated figures provided by Women's Perspectives indicate that there are three shelters for victims of domestic violence in the country, two of which are operated by NGOs and the other by the Kiev Municipality (OSI 2006). However, Country Reports 2005 indicates that a second municipally-run shelter opened in the Crimean town of Izumrudne in February 2005, sheltering battered women for up to three months (US 8 Mar. 2006, Sec. 5). In addition, Country Reports 2005 notes that there were NGO-supported services for abused women in nine cities throughout the country (US 8 Mar. 2006, Sec. 5).

According to Women's Perspectives, twelve shelters house victims of human trafficking, seven of which are operated by NGOs and the other five of which are run by the Ministry of Family, Youth and Sports Affairs (OSI 2006). Women's Perspectives estimates that shelters in Ukraine can accommodate a total of about one hundred female victims of violence (ibid.).

Every shelter operated by a women's NGO provides free legal, social, and psychological counselling to victims of violence (including domestic and sexual violence as well as trafficking) (ibid.). The Center of Work with Women operated by the Kiev Municipality also runs a crisis centre (ibid.). Since free government legal aid is only available to those facing criminal charges, and not to their alleged victims, the latter must seek the assistance of NGOs, whose legal activities are often financed by international donors (ibid.).

Examples of NGOs working with female victims of violence are: the World of Women NGO in Kharkov, whose 3 employees and 123 volunteers maintain a hotline, crisis centre and shelter for victims of domestic violence (IIAV n.d.); the Odessa-based Centre for Rehabilitation 'Stupeny' (STEPS), which provides awareness and rehabilitation training; and the Women's Information Consultative Center in Kiev, which organizes conflict prevention activities (Women's International League for Peace and Freedom n.d.).

Hotlines operated by some organizations deal only with victims of human trafficking, while others assist any woman in crisis (OSI 2006). Since 1997, La Strada Ukraine has operated the only toll-free national hotline (ibid.).

In September 2006, the Unian News Agency reported that Ukrainian First Lady Kateryna Yushchenko attended a reception for members of the International Council of Women in Kiev (ICW) (11 Sept. 2006). Ukraine's National Council of Women, which is a member of the ICW, comprises 22 women's organizations and is involved in assisting women victims of violence and human trafficking (Unian 11 Sept. 2006). According to Dmytro Tabachnyk, Ukraine's Vice Prime Minister for Humanitarian Affairs, who also attended the reception, there are 40 national and international organizations and 1,500 regional public women's organizations throughout Ukraine working on family violence and other issues that affect women (stopVAW 10 Oct. 2006).

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.

References

Amnesty International (AI). 7 November 2006. "Ukraine: Amnesty International Urges the Ukrainian Government to Implement the Recommendations of the UN Human Rights Committee." [Accessed 7 Feb. 2007]
_____. 23 May 2006. "Ukraine." Amnesty International Report 2006. [Accessed 7 Feb. 2007]

Associated Press (AP). 6 September 2006. Natasha Lisova. "Ukraine Appeals for Global Action to Stop Human Trafficking." (Factiva)

Human Rights Watch (HRW). January 2007. "Ukraine." World Report 2007. [Accessed 13 Feb. 2007]

International Information Centre and Archives for the Women's Movement (IIAV), Amsterdam. N.d. "Mir Zhenschin." [Accessed 9 Feb. 2007]

Open Society Institute (OSI). 2006. Violence Against Women: Does the Government Care in Ukraine? Fact Sheet 2006. [Accessed 13 Feb. 2007]

Stop Violence Against Women (stopVAW). 22 November 2006. Halyna Fedkovych. "Parliament Hearings on Gender-Based Violence and Gender Equality." [Accessed 8 Feb. 2007]
_____. 20 November 2006. Halyna Fedkovych. "Community Reponse to Domestic Violence – Round Table in Lviv." [Accessed 8 Feb. 2007]
_____. 21 October 2006. Halyna Fedkovych. "Parliament Hearings on Violence Against Women." [Accessed 8 Feb. 2007]
_____. 10 October 2006. Halyna Fedkovych. "General Assembly of the International Council of Women in Kyiv." [Accessed 8 Feb. 2007]
_____. 11 April 2006. Halyna Fedkovych. "Legislative Trends and New Developments." [Accessed 8 Feb. 2007]
_____. 10 April 2006. Halyna Fedkovych. "Ukraine." [Accessed 8 Feb. 2007]
_____. N.d. "Ukraine." [Accessed 8 Feb. 2007]

Ukraine. 15 November 2001. Parliament of Ukraine. "Annotation: On Prevention of Family Violence." [Accessed 8 Feb. 2007]

Ukrainian News Agency [Kiev]. 14 September 2006. "Rada Decides to Hold Hearings on Prevention of Violence Against Women on November 21." (Factiva)

Unian News Agency [Kiev]. 11 September 2006. "First Lady Speaks at ICW Reception." (Factiva)

United Nations (UN). 28 November 2006. Human Rights Committee. Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties under Article 40 of the Covenant: Concluding Observations of the Human Rights Committee – Ukraine. [Accessed 13 Feb. 2007]

United States (US). 8 March 2006. Department of State. "Ukraine." Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2005. [Accessed 7 Feb. 2007]
_____. 5 June 2006. Department of State. "Ukraine." Trafficking in Persons Report 2006.

Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (PeaceWomen.org). N.d. "Ukraine." [Accessed 8 Feb. 2007]

Additional Sources Consulted

Internet sites, including: British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), Council of Europe (COE), Courrier international, European Country of Origin Information Network (ecoi.net), Fédération internationale des ligues des droits de l'homme (FIDH), Freedom House, International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights (IHF), Journal francophone d'Ukraïne, Kharkov Center for Gender Studies, La Strada Ukraine, Legislationline, Network of East-West Women, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), Transitions Online, Ukrainian Journal, Ukrainian Ministry of Family, Youth and Sports Affairs, Ukrainian Ministry of Interior Affairs, Ukrainian Observer, Women's Information Consultative Center [Kiev], Womenwatch.

Copyright notice: This document is published with the permission of the copyright holder and producer Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB). The original version of this document may be found on the offical website of the IRB at http://www.irb-cisr.gc.ca/en/. Documents earlier than 2003 may be found only on Refworld.

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