Violence Against Women in Ukraine
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Population of women: 24,274,000/44,940,000
Life expectancy of women (at birth): 75
School life expectancy for women: 15
Women's adult literacy:
Women engaged in economic activity: 53%
Source: U.N. Statistics Division, Social Indicators, updated December 2012[i]
last updated August 2014
Ukraine declared its independence from the Soviet Union on August 24th, 1991.[ii] The Ukrainian Constitution, most recently adopted and ratified on June 28, 1996, is the principle governing law of Ukraine, affirming Ukraine’s commitment to protecting human rights.[iv] Article 3 of the Constitution states that “the human being, his or her life and health, honour and dignity, inviolability and security are recognised in Ukraine as the highest social value.”[v] 
The adoption of laws and other legal decrees in Ukraine are required to originate from the principles of the Constitution and should comply with Constitutional provisions.[vi] The right of citizens to protect constitutional rights and liberties of citizens in court is constitutionally guaranteed in Article 8.[vii]
During 2014, Ukraine has experienced considerable civil unrest, ethnic tension, and armed conflict. The situation intensified after Crimea broke away from Ukraine to join the Russian Federation in March 2014.[viii] Fighting continues in eastern Ukraine between Ukrainian government forces and ethnic Russian separatists allegedly supported by the Russian Federation.[ix] The conflict in Ukraine has significantly impacted women; the UN Refugee Agency estimates the majority of persons displaced internally by the fighting are women and children.[x] Turmoil in the government will likely limit the ability of Ukraine to meet international and national obligations to combat violence against women.
Gender Equality
Gender discrimination is specifically prohibited under the Ukrainian Constitution. Article 24 of the Constitution guarantees freedom from all forms of discrimination, including on the basis of sex.[xi] This article states that:
Equality of the rights of women and men is ensured: by providing women with opportunities equal to those of men, in public and political, and cultural activity, in obtaining education and in professional training, in work and its remuneration; by special measures for the protection of work and health of women; by establishing pension privileges, by creating conditions that allow women to combine work and motherhood; by legal protection, material and moral support of motherhood and childhood, including the provision of paid leaves and other privileges to pregnant women and mothers.[xii]
The Constitution of Ukraine also guarantees equal rights and obligations for men and women in family and in marriage.[xiii]
In 2005 the Ukrainian Parliament passed the law “On Ensuring Equal Rights and Opportunities for Women and Men” (Gender Equality Law), which went into effect on January 1, 2006.[xiv] The law’s text begins by reaffirming Ukraine’s commitment to upholding the principles of its Constitution:
The objective of this Law is achievement of equality of women and men in all spheres of social life through establishing a legislative base for securing equal rights and opportunities for women and men, elimination of all forms of gender-based discrimination and organization of special provisional activities aimed at elimination of misbalance between the opportunities of women and men to enjoy equal rights provided for in the Constitution and laws of Ukraine.[xv]
The law defines gender equalityas “equal legal status of women and men and equal opportunities for its realization that allows the persons of both sexes to take an equal part in all spheres of society life.”[xvi] The law also outlines state policy concerning equal rights and opportunities for women and men and authorizes government agencies, public institutions, and private organizations to take steps to achieve these goals.[xvii]
The Gender Equality law prohibits “discrimination based on sex” and allows women to sue for “pecuniary and moral losses as a result of discrimination based on sex or sexual harassment.”[xviii] However, the scope of liability for such discrimination or harassment is not well defined.[xix] According to women’s non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Ukraine, the law did not create a clear mechanism to help Ukrainian women enforce their rights, a problem exacerbated by Ukrainians’ general reluctance to sue for protection from discrimination in court and a lack of awareness that a legal remedy even exists.[xx] Thus, the impact of the law in curbing discrimination based on sex has been limited.
In September 2012, Ukraine enacted a new law to prohibit both direct and indirect discrimination, including discrimination based on sex.[xxi] However, Ukrainian civil society was excluded from the drafting of the law, and the law has since been criticized for not providing a comprehensive approach to combating discrimination in Ukraine.[xxii] The definitions of discrimination in the law have also been criticized as confusing and incompatible with well-established international standards, such as the principal of non-discrimination contained in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.[xxiii] The grounds for a discrimination complaint are also considered too narrow, excluding such sex-based grounds as pregnancy, maternity, and “multiple discrimination” (e.g., gender and Roma ethnicity).[xxiv] The Parliament approved a bill to amend the law to address many of these criticisms in 2013; however, the bill stalled in May 2013 and as of July 2014, Parliament has not passed the legislation.[xxv]
Also in 2013, the government of Ukraine approved a State Programme on Ensuring Equal Rights and Opportunities for Women and Men (2013 to 2016).[xxvi]  No national gender equality program was adopted for 2011-2013, and Ukraine did not budget for any gender equality activities during that time (but neither did many regional governments).[xxvii] Much of the national mechanism for promoting gender equality was dismantled or weakened after the government restructured in late 2010; after that time, no Ukrainian state agency had clear responsibility for national gender policy until 2011, when the government appointed an official to head the relevant department within the Ministry of Social Policy.[xxviii]
The government has allocated funds for the current Programme, beginning in 2014.[xxix] The Programme is meant to address several factors that contribute to inequality between women and men in Ukrainian society by (among other things): expanding women’s participation in the work force in accordance with European standards, aligning national gender equality legislation with European and international norms, improving the mechanisms by which women may enforce their right to be free from discrimination, and developing measures to enable women and men to balance family responsibilities and actively participate in business and government.[xxx]  It is also intended to catalyze and renew the national mechanisms for gender equality within Ukraine.[xxxi]
Despite the new state Programme, the Ukrainian Parliament has not yet acted on proposed legislation to establish a gender quota in the electoral lists of political parties to address long-standing inequalities between women and men in government and politics.[xxxii] The Parliament also has not acted on a package of amendments intended to harmonize 11 different Ukrainian laws with the law on gender equality.[xxxiii] However, the Parliament did approve a law to raise the minimum age of marriage for women to 18, in March 2012.[xxxiv] Another package of amendments under consideration in the Parliament in April 2014 would reportedly improve the gender equality law’s enforcement mechanisms and make it more effective in promoting equal rights and opportunities for women.[xxxv]
In a submission to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW Committee) during the Committee’s consideration of the sixth and seventh periodic reports of Ukraine, a consortium of 22 Ukrainian women’s NGOs made the following observations about the challenges facing women in achieving gender equality in Ukraine:
The traditional distribution of gender roles limits the opportunities for women’s development and realization of their life potential, limits their rights and leads to the discrimination. . . . The labor market is characterized by the gender asymmetry, misbalance, and discrimination.[xxxvi]
In its 2014 national review of Ukraine’s success in achieving the goals of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, Ukraine’s Ministry of Social Policy (with the support of UN Women) identified several persistent barriers to achieving full equality for women in Ukraine, including “lack of political will” to advance gender equality; unequal representation of women in public and political life; negative gender stereotypes actively promoted by “anti-gender movements” and the educational system; a “high level of gender segregation in the labour market;” and a lack of public “legal” awareness about what constitutes discrimination or a violation of rights, including domestic violence.[xxxvii] The national review also expressed concern about the government’s recent financial austerity measures and the disproportionate impact these could have on women, particularly rural and Roma women, women with special needs, and women displaced by the fighting in Crimea.[xxxviii]
Domestic Violence
Violence against women comprises at least 90% of reported cases of violence in Ukraine, yet it is estimated that only 1 in 4 women who have been victims of domestic violence have sought support from the legal system.[xxxix]
On November 15, 2001, the Ukrainian Parliament adopted its first domestic violence law titled “On Prevention of Violence in the Family.”[xl] As a follow-up measure, the Cabinet of Ministers issued Decree No. 616 on April 26, 2003, providing for a standard administrative protocol for authorities to receive and review reports of acts or threats of domestic violence.[xli] In addition, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Ministry of Family, Youth and Sport issued a joint order in 2009 to establish a procedure for various government bodies to cooperate in dealing with the prevention of violence in the family.[xlii]
The law allows victims of violence to file a civil report of domestic violence, after which he or she can apply for a protection order or file a civil claim against the abuser for money damages.[xliii] The law defines domestic violence as “any intentional action committed by one family member towards another family member which violates the constitutional rights and freedoms of the family member and causes harm to his or her physical, mental or moral health.”[xliv] The law identifies and defines several types of domestic violence:
  • Physical violence: an act of battery perpetrated by an individual against a family member;
  • Sexual violence: unwanted sexual advances or experiences, or any sexual abuse of a minor;
  • Psychological violence: any verbal abuse or threat that creates a sense of fear, lack of confidence, helplessness or any other mental suffering;
  • Economic violence: any act intended to deprive a family member of residence, food, clothing or other property, to which the victim is entitled or in which there is a protected legal interest and which may potentially cause death, mental or physical suffering.[xlv]
The law also directs the Ministry of Internal Affairs to set up a procedure for registering perpetrators of domestic violence with local police.[xlvi]
Although Article 15 of the law authorizes criminal, administrative and civil penalties for domestic violence, to date, perpetrators of domestic violence face only administrative penalties.[xlvii] Thus, a person who commits domestic violence, violates a protective order, or fails to participate in a corrective program may be fined three to five times their personal exemption, forced to provide up to one month of corrective labor with a 20% salary deduction, or receive up to five days of administrative arrest.[xlviii]
Parliament held hearings in 2004, entitled “The Status of Women in Ukraine: Reality and Perspectives,” during which experts presented data on domestic violence to the Ukrainian government.[xlix] After the hearings, the Ministry of Family, Youth and Sports created the Expert Working Group for the Prevention of Domestic Violence Issues in July 2007.[l]
However, while the creation of a domestic violence law and other government actions helped to increase public awareness of domestic violence and provide some protection to victims of domestic violence, aspects of the law were heavily criticized by Ukrainian activists.[li] The law punished victims for “provoking” domestic violence, and police could issue warnings to women who had “provoked” their abuser.[lii] Victims who had been warned three or more times then became ineligible to receive an order for protection against the abuser.[liii] The police frequently issued these warnings; the Ministry of Internal Affairs reported that 6,832 warnings for provocative behavior were issued in 2004.[liv] These warnings could be easily used as a means to threaten victims or discourage them from reporting domestic violence.
Criticism of these provisions eventually led to a series of amendments, which went into effect on January 1, 2009.  The amendments eliminated the practice of issuing warnings for provocative behavior, increased procedural oversight for receiving and investigating complaints of domestic violence, and authorized the creation of a system of correctional programs for perpetrators of domestic violence.[lv] However, the number of domestic violence perpetrators actually enrolled in correctional programs is very low, with only 4.7% of nearly 93,000 domestic violence offenders in 2013 referred to such programs.[lvi]
In 2010, the government revised the Code of Administrative Offenses to increase civil penalties for violations of the domestic violence law by adding 30 to 40 hours of public works as a possible punishment, in addition to fines.[lvii] This change was made because courts generally used fines to punish perpetrators,[lviii] a practice criticized by NGOs and the international community because it burdened the perpetrator’s entire family, including the victim, and often led to the withdrawal of domestic violence complaints.[lix]  Additionally, domestic violence is not recognized as a separate offense under criminal law. Victims of domestic violence who press criminal charges against their batterers must do so using general criminal statutes on bodily injuries.[lx]
In November 2012, the Ukrainian parliament adopted new measures that instructed employees of crisis, medical and social rehabilitation centers to ensure access to legal aid for victims of domestic violence.[lxi]
On November 7, 2011, Ukraine became the 17th member state of the Council of Europe to sign the Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (Istanbul Convention).[lxii] Preparing the country to ratify the Istanbul Convention (which entered into force on August 1, 2014) is part of the Council of Europe’s 2011-2014 Action Plan for Ukraine, involving a comprehensive review of current domestic legislation in Ukraine on violence against women.[lxiii] As of August 2014, Ukraine had not ratified the Istanbul Convention. 
In 2013, the Ukrainian Cabinet of Ministers submitted to the Parliament the bill “On Preventing and Combating Domestic Violence,” in an attempt to harmonize the “Ukrainian legislative framework” with the requirements of the Istanbul Convention.[lxiv] Parliament had not approved the legislation as of August 2014. Unfortunately, Parliament instead amended the Ukrainian Code of Criminal Procedure in 2013 to prevent law enforcement from removing a perpetrator from the home for “more than three hours,” putting women and children survivors of violence at risk.[lxv] It is not clear how this new provision in the Criminal Procedure Code interacts with the requirements of the Code of Administrative Offenses, which allow police to administratively detain a domestic violence offender for up to five days.[lxvi]
Prevalence of Domestic Violence
Despite the enactment of the 2001 Domestic Violence law and later initiatives, domestic violence continues to be a serious and widespread problem in Ukraine. As described by women’s NGOs in Ukraine:
There is the tendency in Ukraine not to publicize, but to hide the problem of family violence by suppression of the real information, by ignoring the appeals of women, suffer[ing] from the family violence, by making the procedure of processing the appeals and making decisions at the special structures very complicated. The important role in the situation is given to the deeply rooted discriminative stereotypes that the violence in a family is the ‘family internal issue’, and those from the outside, i.e., law- enforcement units, services on family issues, neighbors, etc., should not interfere.[lxvii]
Comprehensive information and statistics on the prevalence of domestic violence were lacking in Ukraine until the European Union (EU) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) published a study of domestic violence in Ukraine called “Assessment of Ukrainian National System of Prevention, Response and Combating of Domestic Violence” in 2009.[lxviii] The study analyzed domestic violence legislation, law enforcement, forensic medical expertise, as well as protective measures and social services available to victims.[lxix] The study’s authors found that the police were largely ineffective in their response to domestic violence, that social services were available only in regional centers leaving many women without access to any support services, and that Ukraine had no efficient system to rehabilitate violators.[lxx] Additionally, others have noted that the courts often allow the perpetrator to stay in the home, which “creates the atmosphere of psychological hostility and provokes aggression” unless the victims seeks shelter elsewhere.[lxxi] Protective orders are issued, but are not considered effective because no clear procedures exist for ensuring the orders are followed.[lxxii]  Penalties for violating an order are administrative, not criminal, and the order itself is issued to the perpetrator with restrictions on his movements, rather than being designed with the primary goal of protecting the victim.[lxxiii]
Domestic violence also makes up a very large percentage of Ukraine’s overall crime. According to the Ministry of Internal Affairs, 109,468 persons were under police supervision for domestic violence in 2011, and that number increased to 117,400 in 2012.[lxxiv]  The Ministry also reported that in the first nine months of 2012, police cited 78,600 warnings for domestic violence and issued 3,800 protective orders.[lxxv]  In 2013, Ukrainian women reported approximately 166,000 domestic violence related claims to the police.[lxxvi]
Despite these alarming numbers, a great deal of domestic violence goes unreported. According to a prevalence survey that was conducted by GfK Ukraine and Equal Opportunities and Women’s Rights in Ukraine Programme in November-December 2009, 44% of Ukrainian women have experienced domestic violence and 30% experienced violence as children. [lxxvii] The findings also revealed that 35% suffered from psychological violence, 21% from physical violence, 17% from economic violence and 1% from sexual violence.[lxxviii] Seventy-five percent of victims never sought help and only 1-2% of victims contacted NGOs and state social services.[lxxix]
Additionally, although police may easily register a domestic violence offender, the registration process is not supported by other preventative measures, including counseling, offender programs, and victim assistance.[lxxx]
Support Services
According to Women Against Violence Europe (WAVE), Ukraine has three shelters serving women survivors of domestic violence, with a total of 100 spaces.[lxxxi] WAVE estimates that this is approximately 2% of the spaces necessary to comply with the Council of Europe Taskforce Recommendations on the provision of women’s support services.[lxxxii] The domestic violence law authorizes the establishment of both crisis centers and “medical and social rehabilitation” centers for victims of family violence. Ukrainian officials reported in 2014 that the country had 22 general centers “for social and psychological help,” and 9 centers that offer “psychological and legal help for women who suffered from domestic violence,”[lxxxiii] although it is not clear whether these were established in accordance with the domestic violence law. The Ukrainian report also indicated that government austerity measures implemented in 2014 could lead to the elimination of many or most of the services provided by staff at these centers.[lxxxiv]
Ukrainian NGOs indicate that the actual number of centers, health clinics or other facilities that provide victim services are difficult to quantify given regional and departmental differences in reporting. They note that by some estimates, the only specialized medical and social rehabilitation centers established according to the law are located in just two areas of Ukraine.[lxxxv] The CEDAW Committee has also raised concerns about access to many of the centers due to registration requirements, and geographical, age (under 35 only) and funding limitations.[lxxxvi]
The International Women’s Rights Center La Strada Ukraine operates the country’s only women’s helpline for survivors of domestic and sexual violence, offering support in several languages, but it does not operate 24 hours a day.[lxxxvii] A separate national hotline is available for reporting human trafficking, domestic violence and gender discrimination.[lxxxviii]
Sexual Assault
The Ministry of Internal Affairs reported that during the first ten months of 2012, the police recorded 451 incidents of rape or attempted rape.[lxxxix]  Still, rape is a largely unreported crime, as many victims of rape are afraid of public shame, mistrust police officers, and harbor a belief that bringing charges will never result in justice.[xc]
The Criminal Code of Ukraine recognizes five categories of sexual crimes, which are dealt with in the following articles, most recently amended in 2010[xci]:
Under Article 152, rape is defined as sexual intercourse using physical violence, the threat of injuries, or by taking advantage of the helpless condition of a victim.[xcii] Article 152 was amended in 2010 to increase the minimum prison sentence for raping a child from 8 to 10 years.[xciii] Other types of sexual assault generally fall under Article 153, also updated in 2010.[xciv] Physical violence may consist of bodily blows, deprivation, or restriction of personal will to overcome the physical resistance of the victim.[xcv] Physical violence may also include the use of narcotics or other substances administered without the consent of the victim with the aim of causing a helpless condition.[xcvi] Intoxication from alcohol may be classified as a helpless condition only when the intoxication was sufficient to deprive the victim of the physical capacity to resist the attacker; consent to the use of alcohol or other substances does not constitute consent to the sexual relations.[xcvii]
Rape charges are brought only upon a victim’s complaint, or if the victim is a minor, by the victim’s relatives or a medical institution.[xcviii] A forensic medical examination is mandatory to determine the fact of sexual intercourse and the forensic expert’s conclusion usually is the only means of prosecuting the perpetrator under Article 152.[xcix]
Ukraine updated its criminal procedure law in November 2012 to add the following provision: “rape without aggravating circumstances . . . is a private prosecution case, and investigation depends on the victim’s complaint.”[c]  The majority of rape cases in Ukraine do not involve aggravating circumstances, and if the victim does not support prosecution the case will simply be closed.[ci]  According to the European Women’s Lobby, the risk of the new provision “is that the victim may waive the complaint under pressure from the perpetrator,” and this lends itself to under-reporting of rape cases.[cii]
Marital Rape
Ukrainian law does not specifically punish marital rape.[ciii] Article 56 of the Family Code of Ukraine on the “right of the wife and the husband to personal liberty,” forbids compulsion of sexual relations in marriage by physical or psychological violence.[civ] Article 18 of the Family Code grants spouses the right to apply to a court to protect a family right or interest.[cv] How this right may work in practice, however, is unclear. 
Sexual Harassment
Sexual harassment of women in Ukrainian society continues to be a widespread problem.[cvi] Although no hard figures currently exist on the prevalence of sexual harassment in Ukraine, Human Rights Watch suggests that up to 50% of women have been victims of sexual harassment in their workplace.[cvii] Still, most women do not report sexual harassment, and even if they do, courts rarely punish perpetrators.[cviii] In many areas, sexual harassment in the workplace is considered so “normal” that women fail to recognize when they are being sexually harassed or that such behavior is prohibited by law.[cix] According to the U.S. State Department 2013 Country Report on Human Rights Practices in Ukraine, women’s groups report “continuing and widespread sexual harassment, including coerced sex, in the workplace.”[cx]
Sexual harassment is included as a prohibited form of discrimination in the 2005 law “On Equal Rights and Opportunities for Women and Men.”[cxi]  Sexual harassment as defined by the law includes actions of a sexual nature, expressed verbally through threats, intimidation, or improper remarks or physical touching, that humiliate or offend a person.[cxii] The law obligates an employer to “take measures to eliminate sexual harassment.”[cxiii] However, the law does not define the measures an employer must take, and does not assign any person or agency responsibility for overseeing violations of the law.
Article 154 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine criminalizes “Compulsion to sexual relations,” defined as:
  1. Forcing a person who is financially or professionally dependent into sexual relations, or
  2. Compelling a person into sexual relations under threat of destruction, damage or withdrawal of property of the victim or his or her relatives or disclosure of information which dishonors him or her.[cxiv]
This provision also allows the filing of criminal charges against perpetrators of domestic violence if they used financial pressure to attempt to induce sexual relations. The crime is considered complete from the moment the threat is made, so the reaction of the victim (rejection or acceptance) is irrelevant.[cxv] However, the victim of criminal sexual harassment under Article 154 must be in a serious financial position of dependence upon the harasser, such as a professional or academic subordinate (employee/boss, student/teacher) or the perpetrator must be the only or most important source of income for the victim.[cxvi]
Trafficking in Women
In the aftermath of the economic and political turmoil Ukraine faced in the 1990’s, human trafficking has emerged as a serious and extensive problem. Ukraine is a destination, transit, and source country for sex and labor trafficking, with Ukrainian women most frequently trafficked to European and Middle Eastern countries.[cxvii] Women, men and children are also trafficked within Ukraine for purposes of exploitation in the agricultural or service sectors, for commercial sexual exploitation, and forced begging.[cxviii] A survey by the International Organization for Migration found that since 1991, over 120,000 Ukrainian men, women and children had been forced into exploitive situations in Europe, Russia and the Middle East, making Ukraine one of the largest countries of origin for slave labor.[cxix]
In May 2004, Ukraine ratified the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children (supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime).[cxx] On September 21, 2011, Ukraine ratified the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings.[cxxi] The day before, on September 20, 2011, Ukraine enacted the legislation “On Combating Trafficking in Human Beings.”[cxxii] The 2011 law:
establishes the organizational and legal principles of combating trafficking in human beings, guaranteeing gender equality, the main strands of the state policy and the basis for international cooperation in this field, the powers of executive authorities, the procedure to declare the status of victims of trafficking in human beings and the procedure for provision of assistance to such persons.[cxxiii]
Article 1 of the law (Definitions) defines trafficking in human beings as:
settlement of an illegal agreement, the object of which is a human being, as well as recruitment, transportation, harbouring, transfer or receipt of a human being for purpose of his/her exploitation, including sexual, by means of deception, fraud, blackmail, abuse of a person’s position of vulnerability or by use of force or threat of use of force, with abuse of power or economic or other dependence of the victim on another person, which is considered a crime under the Criminal Code of Ukraine.[cxxiv]
Article 149 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine has prohibited human trafficking since 1998.[cxxv] It now punishes all forms of trafficking, including for labor, sex, organ transplant, adoption, armed conflict and forced pregnancy, with penalties ranging from three to 15 years in prison, depending on whether the trafficked victim was a minor or otherwise dependent on the perpetrator, multiple victims were involved, violence was committed or threatened, and/or an “organized” group was involved in the crime.[cxxvi] Article 303 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine also prohibits “pimping or engaging person in employment prostitution” through “deceit, blackmail or vulnerable state of a person, with imposition of violence or threat of violence.”[cxxvii] Penalties under Article 303 also range from three to 15 years in prison.[cxxviii]
Ukraine approved a State Targeted Social Programme on combating trafficking in human beings for the period 2013-2015.[cxxix] This Programme outlined eight “key objectives” that defined the government’s approach to combating trafficking, including improving the government’s ability to prosecute perpetrators, prevent trafficking and assist victims.[cxxx] The Programme also contains “measures to improve domestic legislation and bring it into line with international undertakings in the area of human trafficking; the introduction of a system to monitor the activities of those involved in combating trafficking in persons; information campaigns; further training for experts working with victims of human trafficking; and support for the victims.”[cxxxi]
The new legislation and Programme catalyzed the adoption in 2012 of a series of statutory regulations to implement the trafficking law, including: creating the position of a national coordinator to combat human trafficking within the Ministry of Social Policy (adopted January 2012); outlining procedures to determine the status of victims of trafficking (adopted in May 2012); creating a “National Referral Mechanism” to ensure trafficking victims receive appropriate support services (adopted in August 2012); and creating a mechanism to provide financial support to trafficking victims (adopted in July 2012).[cxxxii] However, in order to access such financial and other support (legal, medical and social services), trafficked women must qualify for “official” victim status by complying with Ministry of Interior requirements, including completing an interview and questionnaire.[cxxxiii] The 2011 human trafficking law prohibits detention of official trafficking victims, or persons who have requested official status as a victim of trafficking.[cxxxiv]
The government reported to the CEDAW Committee that it had budgeted resources for the implementation of the law and 2013-2015 Programme; however, it is not clear whether such resources have actually been allocated, particularly for victim support, shelter and rehabilitation.[cxxxv]
The U.S. Department of State ranked Ukraine as a “Tier 2” country in its 2013 Trafficking in Persons Report, meaning Ukraine is making significant efforts to combat human trafficking, but does not yet fully comply with all of the standards of the U.S. Trafficking Victims Protection Act.[cxxxvi]
In 2011, as part of a larger government restructuring, the Ukrainian government dismantled the specialized anti-trafficking police unit set up in 2000.[cxxxvii]  As a result, the number of human trafficking investigations and convictions decreased in 2012 as dozens of trained investigators left the Ministry of Interior or were cut from the force.[cxxxviii] While the government conducted limited trafficking prevention activities in 2012, the government allocated no funding to anti-trafficking efforts.[cxxxix]  Most funding for anti-trafficking activities and assistance to victims came from international donors.[cxl] In August 2013, the government re-formed the anti-trafficking unit as its own division within the Ministry of Interior, and increased the total number of officers working on anti-trafficking efforts from 270 to 500 across the country. [cxli]
Still, overall trafficking investigations and prosecutions under Article 149 continued to decline from 2011 to 2013, with 197 investigations and 135 prosecutions in 2011, 162 investigations and 122 prosecutions in 2012, and 130 investigations and 91 prosecutions in 2013.[cxlii] Additionally, the number of trafficking victims identified by the government also fell significantly, from 297 in 2011, to 187 in 2012, and to 107 in 2013.[cxliii]
Ukrainian NGOs and the international community are concerned that an overall lack of government funding has led to under-trained government staff with limited resources who are not adequately prepared to combat trafficking.  In certain cases, the international community has tried to fill these gaps.[cxliv] For example, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) has organized and funded training seminars for law enforcement officers, judges, prosecutors and other social service providers on trafficking prevention and victim assistance.[cxlv] The International Organization for Migration (IOM) has also trained law enforcement officers, including 108 from around Ukraine in 2012.[cxlvi]
The Ukrainian government has conducted some media and educational campaigns to improve public awareness about the realities of sex trafficking, including print and television campaigns intended to raise awareness of the risks of trafficking.[cxlvii]  In addition, the government has cooperated with the OSCE on an anti-trafficking campaign to raise awareness about human trafficking, which reached approximately 2.3 million people.[cxlviii]  However, sex trafficking victims are still incorrectly characterized by many Ukrainians as “willing prostitutes.”[cxlix] They are frequently denied confidentiality by police and prosecutors, witness protection programs are weak, and bias against the victims discourages many from testifying in court in the first place.[cl]
Government assistance to victims is provided through existing state-funded institutions that serve other populations, such as social service centers that can provide shelter and access to support services.[cli] It is not clear how funding reductions for social services resulting from financial austerity measures[clii] will impact services for trafficking victims.  Many victims have great difficulty finding financial assistance for repatriation or re-establishment in Ukrainian society, or even for basic support services, although reports indicate this is slowly changing.[cliii] Still, new regulatory criteria for obtaining access to state services are either quite strict or complex, or local officials are not aware of the new process for helping victims.  For example, in 2012, the state granted official victim status to only 16 of the 187 persons identified as trafficking victims by the Ukrainian law enforcement.[cliv] Of those 16, none received the one-time support payment guaranteed by a 2012 government resolution and required by the 2011 law on trafficking.[clv] The number of victims granted official status increased in 2013, to 54.[clvi]
The government’s official numbers are still quite small in comparison to the number of victims identified by NGOs and the IOM in Ukraine, which together assisted more than 2000 victims in 2010 and 2011.[clvii]  One NGO reported assisting an additional 2000 victims in 2012 and 2013.[clviii] These organizations provide most of the temporary shelter and medical, psychological, legal and job placement assistance available to victims.[clix] While Ukraine has been very open to NGOs providing services to trafficking victims, the government has been reluctant to allocate significant funds to support their work with victims or their work to combat the demand side of trafficking within Ukraine.[clx] However, in April 2013, the government entered into a “partnership agreement” with a coalition of 22 Ukrainian NGOs and set up “procedures allowing NGOs to request financial support.”[clxi]
No foreign victims of trafficking achieved legal residency status in Ukraine in 2012 or 2013, although for the first time, six foreign trafficking victims were given official victim status in 2013.[clxii] However, without legal residence, foreign victims face significant challenges in accessing services, they are barred from seeking employment, and they could be deported at any time.[clxiii]

[i] U.N. Statistics Division, Social Indicators (December 2012).
[ii] U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, “The World Factbook: Ukraine,” (accessed July 15, 2014).
[iii] Ibid.
[v] Ibid., Art. 3.
[vi] Ibid., Art. 8.
[vii] Ibid.
[viii] Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, “Report on the human rights situation in Ukraine,” April 14, 2014, available for download at
[ix] For more information on the conflict, please visit the United Nations in Ukraine or this summary of news coverage in the New York Times. 
[x] Clair Bigg and Levko Stek, “In Focus: Ukraine's Refugee Crisis,” Radio Free Europe, Radio Liberty, July 24, 2014.
[xii] Ibid.
[xiii] Ibid, Art. 51.
[xiv] Law of Ukraine “On Ensuring Equal Rights and Opportunities for Women and Men,” No. 2866-IV (September 8, 2005).
[xv] Ibid.
[xvi] Ibid., art. 1.
[xvii] Ibid., arts. 3, 7.
[xviii] Ibid., art. 23.
[xix] Ibid., art. 24.
[xx] Women’s Consortium of Ukraine, “Alternative Report on the Implementation of the UN Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women in Ukraine,” 9-10 (2008), available for download at
[xxi] Law of Ukraine, “On principles of prevention and counteraction of discrimination in Ukraine,” No. 5207-VI (September 6, 2012); U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, “Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2013: Ukraine,” sec. 6.
[xxiv] Ibid.
[xxv] UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Fifty-second session, List of issues in relation to the sixth periodic report of Ukraine, Addendum, Replies of Ukraine to the list of issues, E/C.12/UKR/Q/6/Add.1, pars. 24-27, March 10, 2014, available for download from
[xxvii] Ibid., 13.
[xxviii] Ibid., 11, 53.
[xxix] Ibid., 13.
[xxx] Ibid. 43; see alsoUkraine steps up efforts to get more women into the workforce,” UN Women, October 4, 2013.
[xxxi] Ibid., 53. See page 71 of the National Review for a graphic representation of Ukraine’s national gender mechanism in 2014.
[xxxii] “Government to ensure equal rights for men and women,” Information-Analytical Bulletin of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine, October 27, 2013,
[xxxiii] Ukraine: National Review, supra n. 26, 12.
[xxxiv] Ibid.
[xxxv] Ibid.
[xxxvi] Women’s Consortium of Ukraine, “Alternative Report on the Implementation of the UN Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women in Ukraine,” 44, 46 (2008), available for download at
[xxxvii] Ukraine: National Review, supra n. 26, 9-10.
[xxxviii] Ibid., 19.
[xl] Law of Ukraine “On Prevention of Domestic Violence,” No. 2789-III (15 Nov. 2001).
[xli] Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine, Decree No. 616 “On approval of the application and review reports of violence or real threat,” No. 2789-14 (Apr 26, 2003).
[xlii] Ukraine: National Review, supra n. x, 26.
[xliii] Law of Ukraine “On Prevention of Domestic Violence,” No. 2789-III, art. 4 (November 15, 2001).
[xliv] Ibid, art. 1.
[xlv] Ibid.
[xlvi] Ibid, art. 12.
[xlvii] Ibid., art. 15 (Responsibility for committing family violence).
[xlviii] Ukraine Code of Administrative Offenses, art. 172-3 ('Committing domestic violence, violation of protective order, non-participation in corrective programme').
[xlix] Global Gender, “Situation of Ukraine,” (accessed December 13, 2013).
[l] Andrea Solkner, “Needs Assessment of the National Referral Mechanism for Victims of Trafficking in Human Beings in Ukraine,” Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, 29 (2008).
[lii] Law of Ukraine “On Prevention of Domestic Violence,” No. 2789-III, Art. 11 (Nov. 15, 2001).
[liii] Ibid.
[liv] VAW Monitoring Program Country Monitoring Reports and Fact Sheets, “Violence Against Women: Does the Government Care in Ukraine?,” Open Society Institute, 25 (2007).
[lvi] Ukraine: National Review, supra n. 26, 29.
[lviii] Ukraine: National Review, supra n. 26, 27.
[lix] Ibid., 26.
[lx] Criminal Code of Ukraine, Arts. 121, 122, 125-127, 129 & 152.
[lxi] “Ukraine Introduces Free Legal Aid for All,” Worldwide News Ukraine (November 15, 2012),
[lxii] Council of Europe, “Chart of signatures and ratifications to the Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (Status as of: 6/12/2013),”,
(accessed December 5, 2013).
[lxiii] Council of Europe, Office of Director General of Programs, “Council of Europe Action Plan for Ukraine 2011-2014,” (accessed December 5, 2013).
[lxiv] Ukraine: National Review, supra n. 26, 27.
[lxv] Ibid., 28.
[lxvii] Women’s Consortium of Ukraine, supra n. 36, 42-43.
[lxix] Ibid.
[lxx] Ibid.
[lxxi] Women’s Consortium of Ukraine, supra n. 36, 44.
[lxxii] Ibid.
[lxxiii] Committee of the Verkhhovna Rada of Ukraine on Human Rights, National Minorities and International Relations, Kharkiv National University of Internal Affairs of Ukraine, Criminological Association of Ukraine, International Women's Rights Centre La Strada – Ukraine, “The Monitoring of the Implementation of the Law of Ukraine about Preventing Family Violence (2001-2011),” 21-22 (Kiev-Kharkiv: 2011).
[lxxiv] Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2012: Ukraine, 31.
[lxxv] Ibid.
[lxxvi] Ukraine, National Review, supra n. 26, 28.
[lxxviii] Ibid.
[lxxix] Ibid.
[lxxxi] Women Against Violence Europe (WAVE), “Country Report 2013: Ukraine.”
[lxxxii] Ibid.
[lxxxiii] Ukraine, National Review, supra , n. 26, 28.
[lxxxiv] Ibid., 53.
[lxxxvi] U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, Forty-fifth session, Concluding observations of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women: Ukraine, CEDAW/C/UKR/CO/7*, par. 28 (February 5, 2010).
[lxxxvii] Women Against Violence Europe (WAVE), “Country Report 2013: Ukraine.”
[lxxxviii] Ibid.
[lxxxix] U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2012: Ukraine, 31.
[xc] Women Against Violence Europe (WAVE), “Country Report 2013: Ukraine,” 199.
[xci] Law of Ukraine No. 2295-VI (2295-17), available for download at
[xciii] Law of Ukraine No. 2295-VI (2295-17), available for download at
[xcv] VAW Monitoring Program, supra n. 54, 28.
[xcvi] Ibid.
[xcvii] European Women’s Lobby (EWL),“EWL Barometer on Rape in the EU 2013,” Halyna Fedkovych, Expert. National Analysis: Ukraine.
[xcviii] Ibid.
[xcix] VAW Monitoring Program, supra n. 54, 28.
[c] European Women’s Lobby, Ukraine, supra n. 97.
[ci] Ibid.
[cii] Ibid.
[ciii] VAW Monitoring Program, supra n. 54, 28.
[cv] Ibid., art. 18.
[cvi] U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2012: Ukraine, 32.
[cvii] Human Rights Watch, “Women’s Work: Discrimination Against Women in the Ukrainian Labor Force,” Vol. 15 No. 5(D), 38 (August 2003).
[cviii] U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2012: Ukraine, 32.
[cix] Human Rights Watch, “Women’s Work: Discrimination Against Women in the Ukrainian Labor Force,” at 30 (Aug. 2003, Vol. 15 No. 5(D)).
[cx] U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2013: Ukraine, sec. 6.
[cxi] Law of Ukraine “On Ensuring Equal Rights and Opportunities for Women and Men,” No. 2866-IV (8 Sept. 2005).
[cxii] Ibid, art. 1.
[cxiii] Ibid, art. 17.
[cxiv] Ukraine Criminal Code Art. 154.
[cxv] VAW Monitoring Program, supra n. 54, 28.  However, the victim’s subjective perception is relevant and t victim must perceive the threat as real. Ibid.
[cxvi] Ibid., 29.
[cxvii] U.S. Department of State, Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, “Trafficking in Persons Report 2014: Ukraine.”
[cxviii] Ibid.,2 n.9. 
[cxix] International Organization for Migration, “Ukraine,” (accessed July 15, 2013); UNODC, “Global Report on Trafficking in Persons 2012,” 59 (2012).
[cxx] U.N. Treaty Collection, “Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime,” Status as at July 28, 2014, (accessed July 28, 2014). 
[cxxi] Council of Europe Treaty Office, “Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings,” Status as of July 6, 2014, (accessed July 28, 2014).
[cxxii] Law of Ukraine “On Combating Trafficking in Human Beings,” No. 3739-VI (September 20, 2011) (preamble), available for download at; Oleksii Pozniak, “Human trafficking trends in Ukraine,” CARIM East – Consortium for Applied Research on International Migration, at 2 (May 2013).
[cxxiii] Law of Ukraine “On Combating Trafficking in Human Beings,” No. 3739-VI (September 20, 2011) (preamble), available for download at
[cxxiv] Ibid., art. 1.
[cxxv] Ukraine: National Review, supra n. x, 29.
[cxxvi] Criminal Code of Ukraine, art. 149, available for download at
[cxxvii] Ibid., art. 303.
[cxxviii] Ibid.
[cxxix] Ekateryna Ivaschenko-Stadnik, “The policy of combating trafficking in human beings: the Ukrainian Context,” CARIM East – Consortium for Applied Research on International Migration (May 2013).
[cxxx] UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, Fifty-fourth session, Concluding observations of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women: Ukraine,
Addendum, Information provided by the Government of Ukraine on the follow-up to the concluding observations of the Committee, CEDA W/C/UKR/CO/7/Add.1, par. 9, September 19, 2012.
[cxxxi] Ibid., par. 10.
[cxxxii] Amb. Madina Jarbussynova, OSCE Project Co-ordinator in Ukraine, “Prevention of Human Trafficking via Promotion of Non-Discrimination and Empowerment: Assistance to Ukrainian Institutions,” OSCE, (accessed December 5, 2013).
[cxxxiii] Law of Ukraine “On Combating Trafficking in Human Beings,” art. 15; La Strada Ukraine, “Ukraine,” (accessed July 20, 2014).
[cxxxiv] Law of Ukraine “On Combatting Trafficking in Human Beings,” art. 14(5).
[cxxxv] Barbary Bailey, Rapporteur on follow-up, Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, AA/Follow-up/Ukraine/54, 3, March 19, 2013.
[cxxxvi] U.S. Department of State, Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, “Trafficking in Persons Report (TIP) 2013: Ukraine.”
[cxxxvii] U.S. Department of State, Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, “Trafficking in Persons Report TIP) 2014: Ukraine.”
[cxxxviii] U.S. TIP Report 2013, supra n. 138.
[cxxxix] Ibid.
[cxl] Ibid.
[cxli] U.S. TIP Report 2014, supra n. 138, 390.
[cxlii] Ibid.
[cxliii] Ibid.
[cxliv] See The Advocates for Human Rights, “Trafficking in Women: Moldova and Ukraine” at 24-27 (Dec. 2000).
[cxlvi] U.S. TIP Report 2014, supra n. 139.
[cxlvii] U.S. TIP Report 2013, supra n. 138.
[cxlviii] Ibid.
[cxlix] Ibid.
[cl] U.S. TIP Report 2013, supra n. 138.
[cli] Ibid.
[clii] Ukraine: National Review, supra n. 26, 53.
[cliii] U.S. TIP Report 2014, supra n. 139, 391.
[cliv] U.S. TIP Report 2013, supra n. 138.
[clv] Ibid.
[clvi] U.S. TIP Report 2014, supra n. 139, 391
[clvii] Kateryna Levchenko et al., La Strada Ukraine, “Implementation by Ukraine of paragraph 31 of CEDAW Committee Concluding Observations, based on consideration of the combined sixth and seventh periodic report of
Ukraine in 2010,” 4 (2012).
[clviii] U.S. TIP Report 2014, supra n. 139, 391.
[clix] Ibid.
[clx] U.S. TIP Report 2013, supra n. 138.
[clxi] U.S. TIP Report 2014, supra n. 139, 391.
[clxii] Ibid.
[clxiii] Ibid.