A few weeks ago, while I browsed the Kyiv Post online, I came across a disturbing story:
Oksana Makar’s rape and attempted murder was shocking enough but to then find the suspected initially walked free (bar one) made it even more sickening.
I know the Ukraine, just like Russia, is corrupt to the core; though it was criminal for the police not to charge these extremely dangerous men, it was also predictable.
The rule of law doesn’t exist here; it is always bent, always ignored. The authorities will only act if you bribe them. With the right connections and enough cash you can literally get away with murder.
Police disregard for what happened to this young girl caused uproar across the Ukraine with demonstrations in support of Oksana taking place all over the country. This eventually led to the other two suspects being rearrested.
I followed Oksana’s hospitalisation through the Ukrainian press and updates on the petition and facebook support page:
That she was still alive after such an attack was a miracle. Her survival was key. If they had found her dead body the case wouldn’t have made headlines but rather been thrown away with all the other unsolved murders.
She named and shamed her alleged attackers: Evhen Krasnoschek, Maxim Prisyjnikov and Artyom Poghosyan.
And showed the world to what extent the Ukraine is drenched in injustice and the severe misogyny found in its society.
There is much support in the Ukraine for Oksana but there is also much criticism grown out of deep-seated sexism.
People accused her of being reckless – an easy girl asking for it. A poll by 24 TV shows that around two thirds of the Ukrainian population thinks she had herself to blame for what happened.
Larisa Poghosyan, the mother of the suspect Artyom Poghosyan, was quoted saying:
“Girls should be a more modest in their manners. I have always condemned such behaviour. Girls are approaching men, sitting next to them in bars, and leaving together… What for? If a girl gets an invitation to enter a man’s apartment, she should not expect that it is an invitation for reading books or having a coffee-party there.”
Does she mean women should expect to be raped and murdered??
The police interview with Evhen Krasnoschek is chilling; he recounts his crimes against Oksana in a matter-of-fact way. Talking of her rape he says: “I wanted sex”. She was a thing, a piece of meat for him to do with as he pleased. He wanted something and he thought it his right to take it.
Misogyny and sexism is widespread in Eastern Europe and Russia. Crimes against women are regularly swept under the carpet.
Girls are seen as objects, prizes, to use and abuse.
They dress to the nines bowing to the pressure to find a husband, for if you haven’t married by your mid twenties your life is over according to their culture. No matter how successful a woman is in her career and life, without a husband she is nothing.
In return for a beautiful wife a man must provide. He is the head of the household; he runs the show. If the woman doesn’t like it – tough luck. Either put up with him or be brave enough to leave with no support. A friend of mine told me that when she decided to leave her husband he took it as an insult to his manhood. He said she and their child wouldn’t receive anything from him if she left.
Of course not all Ukrainian men are like this – some are loving and caring.
Men and women together went to protests demanding justice for Oksana; both sexes are disgusted; both want change. But change will only come when Ukrainian society as a whole moves forward.
Being macho is all important for Ukrainian men and so is chivalry. They hold doors open, give up their seats, carry coats and handbags, wine and dine, and shower girls with flowers. It is a nice surprise and makes one believe that these gentlemen really do respect women. This chivalry however masks an awful truth. Many Ukrainian men wouldn’t hurt a woman but when one does, instead of being taken to court, he is patted on the back and sent off to do the same thing again.
It is a two-edged sword and one that has repeatedly killed Eastern European and Russian women.
Oksana is one of many and sadly she didn’t pull through. She died of her injuries March 29th and was buried yesterday according to Ukrainian tradition in a wedding dress with red roses over her white coffin.
“They deprived her of the possibility of marriage” Oksana’s mother
The suspects are now charged with rape and murder and I truly hope justice will be served and continues to be, not just for Oksana’s sake but for the sake of the Ukraine.
A national outcry shouldn’t be needed for a young girl to die in peace knowing that those who robed her life and violated her body are stopped and punished.