'Sadists, rapists': Russian forces using rape as punishing tactic in Ukraine, UN women's body voices concern
Top UN officials called for a probe of Russia's aggression against women during its invasion of Ukraine, as well as the protection of children caught up in the conflict, on Monday.
"We are increasingly hearing of rape and sexual violence. These allegations must be independently investigated to ensure justice and accountability," Sima Bahous, the UN's women's agency's director, said at a Security Council meeting in New York.
It was unclear whether any probe would be approved by the Security Council, where Russia has veto-wielding powers.
"This war must stop. Now," said Bahous.
The combination of huge displacement with the large presence of conscripts and mercenaries, and the cruelty demonstrated towards the Ukrainian people, has triggered all red lights, according to Bahous.
On Monday, Russia, however, once again disputed claims made by Security Council members.
Dmitry Polyansky, Russia's deputy UN ambassador, urged the group to respect the "presumption of innocence" and stressed that his country's "special military operation" was meant to "save Ukraine's future."
"We know and see - and we want you to hear our voices - that violence and rape is used now as a weapon of war by Russian invaders in Ukraine." Kateryna Cherepakha, president of the rights group La Strada-Ukraine, told the Council via video.
The charges were refuted by Russia's deputy UN ambassador, who accused Ukraine and its allies of having a clear intention to portray Russian servicemen as "sadists and rapists."
According to a report by BBC, they have independently sought out and discovered mounting evidence of rape being used as a punishing tactic by the invading soldiers. Their report includes graphic descriptions of sexual violence against women and girls of all ages.
One incident reported involves a 50-year-old woman who was raped and her husband killed, another had a 16-year-old raped in the street right in front of her 25-year-old sister with the invading soldiers yelling 'this will happen to every Nazi prostitute'.
The same BBC report also mentions, that Lyudmyla Denisova, Ukraine's human rights ombudsman, said that other such examples are being documented.
"About 25 girls and women aged 14 to 24 were systematically raped during the occupation in the basement of one house in Bucha. Nine of them are pregnant," she said. "Russian soldiers told them they would rape them to the point where they wouldn't want sexual contact with any man, to prevent them from having Ukrainian children."