Russian troops are using rape as a weapon of war against Ukrainians, according to damning evidence collected by the UN.
Pramila Patten, a UN special envoy on sexual violence, said she has verified more than 100 cases of rape against Ukrainians during the eight-month war but the true figure is almost certain to be higher.
Victims have ranged in age from four years old to 82 and have been mostly women and girls but included a number of men and young boys, she added.
Patten said survivors have told her of genital mutilations and of soldiers ‘equipped with Viagra’ in what appears to be a ‘military strategy’ to dehumanise people.
‘When women are held for days and raped, when you start to rape little boys and men, when you see a series of genital mutilations, when you hear women testify about Russian soldiers equipped with Viagra, it’s clearly a military strategy,’ she said.
‘And when the victims report what was said during the rapes, it is clearly a deliberate tactic to dehumanise the victims.’
The United Nations has verified ‘more than a hundred cases’ of rape or sexual assaults in Ukraine since Russia invaded in February, Patten said, referring to a UN report released in late September.
The report ‘confirmed crimes against humanity committed by the Russian forces, and according to gathered testimonies, the age of the victims of sexual violence ranges from four to 82-years-old,’ she said.
She added that ‘reported cases are only the tip of the iceberg’.
‘It’s very difficult to have reliable statistics during an active conflict, and the numbers will never reflect reality, because sexual violence is a silent crime’ that is largely underreported, she said