Duchess Of Edinburgh Denounces Russian Forces For Employing Rape As A Weapon Of War During Recent Visit To Ukraine

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The Duchess of Edinburgh, during her landmark visit to Ukraine, strongly condemned the use of rape as a tool of warfare by Russian forces.

Sophie, aged 59, marked a significant moment as the first member of the British royal family to visit Ukraine since the commencement of the full-scale Russian invasion in February 2022.

Her visit aimed to demonstrate the United Kingdom’s solidarity with the Ukrainian people while acknowledging the disproportionate toll that conflicts often impose on women and girls.

She courageously addressed the grim reality of how female bodies are exploited as instruments of conflict, a tragic aspect evident in the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine.

In a meeting with President Volodymyr Zelensky and First Lady Olena Zelenska, the Duchess actively sought avenues to provide support and assistance to those impacted by such atrocities.

This visit underscores Sophie’s continued advocacy for initiatives like the Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict Initiative (PSVI) and the UN’s Women, Peace, and Security Agenda (WPS), commitments she reaffirmed on International Women’s Day in 2019.

Hillary Margolis, a women’s rights researcher at Human Rights Watch, stressed the urgent need for comprehensive post-rape care for survivors, particularly amidst the conflict in Ukraine, emphasizing the imperative of including investigations into gender-based violence in war crime probes.

During her visit, the Duchess met not only with government officials but also with survivors of sexual violence and children who had been abducted and subsequently reunited with their families following actions by Russian forces.

Reports indicate that approximately 20,000 children have been abducted since the conflict’s onset, with only a fraction having been safely returned.

Sophie’s focus on this pressing issue within Ukraine follows her recent address at the Sexual Violence Conference, where she unequivocally denounced the heinous actions of Russian soldiers perpetrating sexual violence.

The United Kingdom’s steadfast support for Ukraine remains unwavering, with a commitment of £357 million in humanitarian aid since the conflict’s inception in 2022.