During the 2014 invasion of eastern Ukraine, violence against women and girls, especially domestic violence and sexual violence, increased rapidly. Since February 2022, the situation has deteriorated to alarming new levels. Pervasive and exacerbated violence against Ukrainian women and girls is a consequence of the war, with women and girls continuing to be abused, exploited and raped in Ukraine and as they flee to other countries. A growing number of survivors are coming forward, supported by additional reports from women’s rights activists, service providers, humanitarian organizations and UN agencies. As the conflict in Ukraine pushes millions of women to seek refuge abroad, those who leave remain highly vulnerable to risks such as trafficking, or may face sexual exploitation and abuse when seeking access housing, transportation or financial resources.
Women’s organizations in Poland, especially those providing services to victims of violence and working on women’s rights, are reporting increasing requests for assistance from victims of sexual violence in Ukraine. Polish civil society has demonstrated its commitment and capacity to respond to growing humanitarian needs, but the international community must step up its financial and technical support to ensure that a sustainable and localized approach continues.