News that a seven year old boy with grievous bodily harm had been delivered to the emergency department of a hospital in the Cherkasy region rattled Ukraine several weeks ago. Boy’s injuries indicated cruel treatment and violence.
As soon as it became known, Director of iDemocracy NGO Human Rights Initiative Mykola Kuleba reacted and addressed law enforcement bodies to figure out details of this case for immediate intervention. Unfortunately, the boy’s life could not be saved. However, iDemocracy will keep an eye on the investigation because silence and impunity give rise to new cases of violence.
«Unfortunately, cases of cruel treatment toward children are not isolated. But society starts to raise an alarm when a situation has already become critical. When a tragedy has already happened, neighbours often begin to recall that they have “noticed something off” in a family. Today we need to cultivate zero tolerance to violence in the society»– explained Mr. Kuleba.
According to the Ukrainian Institute for the Future, 1.5 mln Ukrainians are victims of domestic violence and this comprises 7% of the adult population of the country. In addition, 211 362 messages on domestic violence were registered only in 2020 and majority of them were from women. In particular, 180 921 messages came from women, 27 676 came from men and 2 756 came from children. But there should be an understanding that each fact of aggression in a family with a child causes him/her being psychologically traumatized for the entire life.
«If there is violence in a family, a child suffers. A child suffers even if physical violence has not been directed against him/her. A child who is a witness of violence becomes traumatized. It can have an impact on his/her life in the future»– Mykola Kuleba noted.
It is also worth mentioning that although 40% of Ukrainians know that there is domestic violence in their immediate surroundings, almost half of them do not plan to call the police.
«These statistics on society’s attitude shows that although people know about violence, the saying “it’s none of my business” still works. People do not always call the police because they do not trust it and fear that their call may only exacerbate a situation and make an aggressor more angry »– the activist said.
Let us note that in comparison with 2020 the number of calls to the National hotline on Prevention of Domestic Violence, Human Traffiking and Gender Discrimination increased by 4740 in 2021.
«Our society is changing and has just started to learn not to be afraid of speaking openly about domestic violence. However it is already a step toward fighting domestic violence. But we will not achieve real changes without an efficient system that provides aid for victims and ensures the inevitability of punishment for aggressors and without zero tolerance to violence on the part of the society»– summarized Director of iDemocracy for Human Rights.