Abortion pills and emergency contraception are shipped to Ukraine as reports of rape continue to rise since Russia’s invasion.
Emergency contraception was widely available in Ukraine, but the war destroyed local supply chains and displaced many Ukrainians.
To meet demand amid growing reports of Russia’s alleged use of rape as a weapon of war and the broader upheaval of the war, the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) has sent some 2,880 packets of emergency contraception, commonly known as morning-after contraception. pill, to Ukraine. Russia has denied allegations of rape and other human rights abuses by its soldiers.
IPPF has also sent out post-rape kits, which include emergency contraception, pregnancy tests and abortion pills that can be used up to 24 weeks of pregnancy, said Caroline Hickson, regional director of the IPPF European Network. Other supplies that have been shipped include HIV treatment and intrauterine contraceptive devices, she said.
It is not known exactly how many of those who receive the drug are victims of rape or sexual assault. “What we do know is that there is significant demand from our partners, who are overwhelmed by the number of survivors showing up for services,” Hickson said. news week.
“We don’t need data to tell us this is happening. We know that in everyday life, violence against women is endemic in Ukraine… So the most important thing for us is to act to take care of ourselves right now and make sure we that medical services and psychosocial services are there to support these women”.
Hickson said it was also important to remember that emergency contraception and abortion care were not just needed by survivors of rape and sexual assault.
“There may be a lot of women who are pregnant and it’s the worst time in their lives to be pregnant because they may be on the run, they may be displaced, separated from their families, from their support structures,” she said. .
“Being pregnant at that time can be devastating for some women, and they also need access to emergency contraception and abortion care… It’s absolutely vital for survivors of violence and it’s also incredibly important across the board.”
Since the start of the war, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) has delivered more than 88,000 pounds of “desperately needed” reproductive health supplies, medicine and equipment to hospitals and mobile teams in Kyiv, Kharkiv, Dnipro and Zaporizhzhia.
“Additional kits will be delivered to war-torn cities as soon as stocks in health centers are dangerously low,” Jaime Nadal, UNFPA representative in Ukraine, said in a statement to news week.
UNFPA has distributed 33 post-rape kits to 19 hospitals across Ukraine, Nadal said. The agency is supporting 30 facilities across the country that offer assistance to survivors of gender-based violence.
“The needs of women and girls are increasing, but health services for women who have suffered sexual violence, including rape, are scarcer on the ground,” Nadal said.
“Facilities have been damaged or destroyed, and resources are being stretched or diverted to respond to the needs of displaced people. Many service providers have also been displaced.”
Nadal added: “We will continue to work with partners on the ground to prioritize the rights, needs and wishes of women who have experienced physical and sexual violence and seek support and services.”
Earlier this month, Ukrainian human rights defender Lyudmila Denisova said that nine pregnancies had resulted from the rape of Ukrainian women and girls during the occupation of Bucha, a town northwest of the capital kyiv.
“Around 25 girls and women between the ages of 14 and 24 were systematically raped during the occupation in the basement of a house in Bucha,” Denisova said. “Nine of them are pregnant. The Russian soldiers told them that they would be raped to the point that they would not want sexual contact with any men, to prevent them from having Ukrainian children.”
But Denisova said it was impossible to assess the true scale of sexual assaults by Russian troops in Ukraine.
Russia has repeatedly denied targeting civilians since launching its invasion of Ukraine on February 24. At a UN Security Council meeting earlier this month, Russia’s deputy ambassador to the UN, Dmitry Polyanskiy, accused Ukraine and its allies of “a clear intention to portray Russian soldiers as sadists and rapists.” . .”
Update 4/28/22, 10:45 am ET: This article has been updated to include additional information and a statement from the United Nations Population Fund.