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Rape is a weapon of war. And after 50 days of conflict, reported cases are on the rise in Ukraine. The Russian army is systematically accused. But so far no testimony has been collected. Maurine Mercier, a journalist for Radio Télévision Suisse, met 38-year-old Ekatarina (name has been changed) and her 13-year-old daughter during her long reportage in the troubled town of Boutcha.
By dint of the time spent with them, the young mother has decided to trust. “I tell you everything, once and for all. it’s not my place to be ashamedFor three hours she narrates the absolute horror, strange, unbearable words, like the ordeal these women experienced for two and a half weeks.
Testimony of a Ukrainian woman raped during the Russian occupation, on the microphone of RTS by Maurine Mercier
Here is Ekatarina’s testimony.
“They asked me to kneel down, then they told me: ‘Your daughter is very beautiful.’ I begged them not to touch it. I told them: do what you want with me, but don’t touch her. There were several. I think only my eyes and ears were not violated. All of a sudden, their eyes were spinning and going crazy, all of a sudden, they were totally unpredictable, I really had a feeling that we didn’t have soldiers in front of us, but people were escaping from the mental hospital, that they had given me weapons and I have been sent to war. They are not normal. One day they took me to my neighbor’s small yard, and a soldier told me: “Look, that’s what I did this morning, that’s the woman I killed.” The woman had blood coming out of her mouth. “I waited until she was in pain before finishing him off,” the soldier added. I said, ‘Did you really do that?’ And he told me: ‘yes, I like to kill, it excites me’. She was 18 years old.”
In our 12:30 pm newspaper, Maurine Mercier explained to Catherine Duthu’s microphone the circumstances under which she was able to collect this rare and precious testimony.
It is obviously very difficult for these women to speak. How did you do it ?
Maurine Mercier “Just taking my time. I spent a number of days in Boutcha, particularly in an outlying district. Trust was built. I spoke at length with the women I met there, over a number of days. Several told me they had been raped, but I couldn’t gather the courage to testify. And when the city was liberated, when the bodies of her neighbors were still strewn in the streets of her neighborhood, I met her for the first time. She says nothing about what she has just been through.“
“The whole world needs to know”
“And then, little by little, trust built in, day after day. And suddenly, she made up her mind. She told me: ‘It’s not for me to be ashamed. I tell you everything. Once and for all, the whole world must know.” Three hours of interview with her 13-year-old daughter next to her, who also wanted to express herself. She told me about this unprecedented violence and the profile of these Russian soldiers. These women are perhaps, unfortunately, in Boutcha, among the people who can best draw the portrait of these soldiers who went on a rampage.”
Hundreds of women have been raped according to President Zelensky, but very few manage to talk about it, or even be heard. How to investigate these violations?
Maurine Mercier: “I was able to talk to a psychologist who created a crisis unit to help rape victims. She mentioned two cases in particular to me: a 14-year-old girl, raped by five Russian soldiers. Raped right in front of her house. This young woman is pregnant today. And then this child, 11 years old, raped in front of his mother. The soldiers had tied his mother to a chair. His victims, they will not carry. The psychologist tries in vain to convince them.. This psychologist told me He mentioned these cases in which the victims do not especially think about denouncing. Now many times they think about committing suicide.“
Find Maurine Mercier’s full report on the RTS website: In Boutcha, a mother and daughter bear witness to two weeks of rape and terror