Larysa Denysenko is a journalist, attorney, human rights activist and co-founder of the Association of Women’s Lawyers of Ukraine “JurFem”. Before the war, Denysenko and JurFem mainly advocated for women’s leadership in legal professions, provided mentorship and supported strategic court cases related to domestic violence and gender-based discrimination. Now, this has extended to representing the interests of those who have survived conflict-related sexual violence allegedly perpetrated by the Russian military in Ukraine.
During the first days of the invasion, we were providing legal advice to refugees and internally displaced people, in terms of the procedures, necessary documents, etc. At the beginning of March, the nature of the cases changed significantly. Both women and men – but mostly, women – were calling the hotline to report sexual violence that they, or their closed ones, had been subjected to in the context of the war.
Any violence – including conflict-related sexual violence (CRSV) – is about power relations and dominance. Perpetrators want to demonstrate their power; they want to prevail. That is why sexual violence is so common during wars and armed conflicts. The root of this aggression and impunity lies in domestic violence. The ratification of the Istanbul Convention