Sunday, March 3, 2024

In Ukraine, feminism confronts battle

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Since 1 October 2023, Ukrainian girls aged 18-60 working within the medical subject have been required to look earlier than a army fee to be able to register for doable service within the military. The summons considerations docs, nurses, midwives, dentists and pharmacists. Though not all of them can be known as up, they have to now envisage such a chance. Exemptions are solely accessible to pregnant girls, girls on maternity go away, single moms, moms of huge households, moms caring for disabled kids and wives of Ukrainian army personnel.

Some Ukrainian feminists consider that equality in mobilisation needs to be taken even additional and that girls needs to be conscripted into the military on the identical foundation as males, as in Israel.

A lady’s obligation to serve

In line with Hanna Hrycenko, a Ukrainian sociologist on the Gender Analysis Institute (Інститут Гендерних Програм), “this can be a view you’ll be able to typically hear from girls combating within the Ukrainian military”. She says that “the ‘civilian’ feminists are extra reticent on this topic. They level out {that a} nation at battle not solely wants troopers, but in addition girls to take care of kids. To not point out the truth that girls play a key function in all types of voluntary initiatives.”

“Just some years in the past – when the battle was confined to the east of the nation – Ukrainian feminists have been against giving girls a larger function within the military, out of pacifism. They modified their minds as quickly as missiles began falling on their heads”, quips Hrycenko. “It is onerous to even hear this type of opinion right this moment.”

Oksana Potapova and Irina Dedusheva are authors of “5 Theses on Feminism and Militarism” within the journal “Gender in Particulars”. In it, they observe that whereas Western anti-militarism (together with its feminist model) is laudable in its intention, it’s fully unsuited to the state of affairs in some colonised international locations.

Battle crimes towards girls

Russian troopers are placing Ukrainian girls by means of hell. Sexual violence is frequent, because it was with Crimson Military troops on the finish of the Second World Battle.

As of August 2023, 208 such circumstances had been reported to the Ukrainian courts. They included incidents of gang rape, with using weapons and within the presence of youngsters. Ukrainian feminist activists think about the true variety of victims to be within the hundreds, if not tens of hundreds, provided that victims of sexual assault are sometimes ostracised by society. Kids and males are additionally amongst them.

What’s extra, troopers who return from the trenches are sometimes traumatised by their experiences and extra liable to home violence. This represents a further risk to girls, particularly provided that veterans are protected by a level of social immunity. In 2022, the Ukrainian authorities recorded greater than 250,000 complaints about circumstances of home violence.

That very same yr, Ukraine ratified the Istanbul Conference on tackling violence towards girls and home violence. “It is a nice achievement,” says Hrycenko. “However, we nonetheless lack shelters the place victims can discover refuge.”

This spring, Ukrainian social networks have been abuzz with dialogue concerning the security of ladies on trains. A petition was despatched to the nationwide rail operator, calling for the creation of sex-segregated carriages. Lastly, the Ukrzaliznytsia railway firm determined to introduce separate compartments on night time trains. The entire affair gave rise to a speaking level that goes one thing like this: “Whereas males are combating for his or her homeland, girls are combating for carriages reserved for them”.

The polemic highlights the big problem of reconciling the radically completely different views of civilian girls and all these instantly concerned within the battle effort.

Discrimination suffered by girls who serve

Ladies have been serving within the ranks of the Ukrainian military because the begin of the Donbass battle in 2014. They have been initially employed as care assistants or cooks, due to the conservative legal guidelines in pressure on the time.

Hanna Hrycenko is likely one of the founders of the Invisible Battalion, an outreach mission specializing in girls within the Ukrainian army. In 2018 this initiative had a hit when a regulation guaranteeing gender equality within the military got here into pressure.

Right this moment, greater than 60,000 girls serve within the military, of whom 42,000 are troopers. On the eve of a battle that can contain the entire of Ukrainian society, they symbolize round 15% of the nation’s defence forces.

“Just a few years in the past, the usual media protection consisted of pictures of feminine troopers placing on make-up within the trenches, or interviews through which they have been requested what their husbands considered their work. Fortunately, this kind of state of affairs is now uncommon. Nevertheless, there’s nonetheless discrimination in sure areas,” says Hrycenko.

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One instance is uniforms. It was solely this yr that Ukraine’s defence ministry authorized the feminine mannequin of the summer season uniform (the winter one continues to be missing). Since a girls’s bullet-proof vest continues to be within the design part, girls at present put on the lads’s mannequin, which isn’t solely uncomfortable but in addition supplies much less safety for them. One other drawback talked about by Hrycenko is the shortage of entry to a gynaecologist on the entrance.

Then again, notes Mykhailo Dubyniansky within the Ukrainian newspaper Ukraïnska Pravda, feminine troopers take pleasure in a significant “privilege”: they aren’t compelled to battle, however be a part of the military of their very own free will.


In line with a examine carried out in 2021 by Ukraine’s Gender Analysis Institute, one in ten girls serving within the Ukrainian military are victims of harassment. These incidents don’t usually happen on the entrance line however quite in coaching centres. Instances are not often delivered to gentle. “In Ukraine, there isn’t any system in place to stop or deal with sexual violence inside the military”, sighs Hrycenko. “Ladies cannot even report it anonymously. After figuring out this drawback we proposed – in collaboration with the Ukrain…

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