Victor Filatov, Candidate of Law, Associate Professor

In the eighth year of the attempted annexation of the Crimea, it is safe to say that Russia is simply destroying the peninsula not only economically and politically, but also in a sense of total violation of the rights and freedoms of Ukrainian citizens, who remain in the occupied territories. It is not only about restricting certain rights that prevent the Russian invaders from pursuing their policy of colonization of forcibly occupied territories, but also about such basic rights as the right to freedom of conscience and religion, the right of citizens to appeal to the occupying “powers”. This has already been talked about a lot both in Ukraine and at the level of international institutions. Today, the fundamental rights and freedoms that are recognized at the international legal level are already at risk. First of all, it is about equality between men and women and non-discrimination on the grounds of gender.

Throughout the civilized world, the protection of such rights takes place within the framework of gender policy, the fundamental principles of which are defined in the following international legal acts: Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Convention on the Political Rights of Women, Declaration on the Protection of Women and Children in Emergency and Armed Conflicts, Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, European Social Charter, Convention on the Prevention and Combating of Violence against Women and Domestic Violence [1]. In all civilized countries of the world, the issue of ensuring gender equality has long been the rule of harmonious and sustainable development of society, and systemic conflicts based on gender are a thing of the past.

After the Revolution of Dignity, Ukraine underwent a significant rethinking of the principles of gender policy, and now it has become an integral part of state policy. To the already existing Law of Ukraine “On Ensuring Equal Rights and Opportunities for Women and Men” [2], new regulations were added, which regulated issues of gender equality and non-discrimination on the grounds of sex. Such acts include: the Law of Ukraine “On Civil Service”, the Decree of the President of Ukraine “On Approval of the National Strategy in the Area of Human Rights”, the resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine “On Gender and Legal Examination” etc. [3]. In the Russian-occupied Crimea, the situation is radically opposite. The de-facto “authorities” do not seem to have heard of such a phenomenon as gender policy at all. Let’s analyze specific facts from available sources.

In general, Russia’s gender policy is recognized by the world as very ineffective, as the state ranks 81st out of 153 possible. This means that the mechanisms for ensuring gender equality in Russia hardly work. That is why there is a situation when the number of women in senior government positions is 7-12 %, and the rest are men, who by the way receive much higher incomes in Russia. At the same time, experts from Davos calculated that Russia needs at least 100 years to achieve the standards of gender equality in European countries [4]. We emphasize that gender inequality in is manifested in all possible areas: economics, politics, education, labor. Of course, after the occupation of Crimea, the Russian de-facto “authorities” completely copied the existing model of gender policy in the occupied territories.

However, it should be noted that violations of women’s rights in the occupied Crimea have become much larger than in parts of Russia itself. The fact is that Crimean women began to actively oppose the occupying “powers”. Total violations of women’s rights and gender inequality were immediately discussed at the level of international institutions. In particular, back in 2015, at a meeting of the UN Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, the facts of discrimination against Crimean Tatar women, women with many children, teachers, and women living with HIV were announced. Moreover, at this meeting, Russia reported on its alleged compliance with the requirements of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women [5]. Quite cynical, isn’t it? To say that everything is fine, while violating the rights of women on the occupied peninsula.

Moreover, the violations are in the nature of direct discrimination, which is more like the genocide of women unfavorable to the Kremlin. In particular, it is worth mentioning the death of two elderly Crimean women who became victims of the regime. Veggie Kashka is a 73-year-old activist who died as a result of her “arrest” while defending her right to her own language and culture. The facts about the death of an 82-year-old Ukrainian language teacher from Yalta, who defended the state language on the occupied peninsula, are also well known. Experts emphasize that in the occupied Crimea there is a tendency to exclude women from making any decisions regarding the protection of their rights and freedoms [6]. In such circumstances, we should not talk about civilized gender policy at all, because the aggressor-State probably lives by different rules than all of humanity.

In many cases, gender inequality is driven by political factors. For example, Crimean Tatar women with Kremlin political prisoners are actively uniting to release their husbands. Such women are very annoying to the occupying power, because they are constantly celebrated at the world level. For example, the Crimean Tatar, lawyer Lila Gemedzhi, who defends the rights of illegal prisoners, was recently awarded the Dutch Tulip Human Rights Prize. This award is given to those who work in conditions of risk to their own safety [7]. Russia probably has “nothing left” but to discriminate against such women, to violate their fundamental rights and to restrict their freedoms. The aggressor-State does not even pay attention to the general condemnation of the world community. Our own political goals are far more important than global isolation.

Discrimination against women in the occupied Crimea has already become the norm. It is manifested not only in relation to human rights defenders. All women who take an active position and openly criticize the invaders’ “administration” are at risk. First of all, we are talking about teachers and bloggers who work on the peninsula. Among the personalities we can note: the defenders of the Crimean Tatar language Lily Budzhurov and Lenara Mustafayeva, bloggers Elina Mamedova and Nazif Seitumerova, poet Alia Kenzhalieva. Women representing civil society institutions are also discriminated against. The arrests of Lutfie Zudieva and Mumina Saliyeva, activists of the Crimean Solidarity public association, are worth mentioning. Crimean media journalists are also discriminated against. Thus, in 2019, the occupiers declared “internationally wanted” the journalist of the ATR TV channel Gulsum Khalilova [8].

Discrimination against LGBT communities is a significant problem in the temporarily occupied Crimea. Here, gender inequality essentially turns into homophobia, because women who have a sexual orientation are not only restricted in their rights, they risk their own lives and freedom, because under Russian law, any mention of LGBT persons can be seen as propaganda for which deprivation is provided. will. Linguistic and cultural discrimination is also widespread on the peninsula. In this case, not only women suffer, but also children who find it difficult to receive education in their native Crimean Tatar language. There are also many cases of discrimination against women on religious grounds, as anti-Islamic sentiments are widespread on the peninsula [9].

Manifestation of gender inequality is the existence in Russia and in the occupied Crimea of significant restrictions on women’s labor rights. Thus, under Russian law there is a list of 456 professions that are not available to women. That is, Crimean women are currently simply unable to find employment in these professions due to established prohibitions. Examples of such restrictions are maritime transport and aviation, as well as chemical production. However, no one asked women if they could and wanted to work in these areas. According to international experts, such inequality can be considered discrimination and has negative consequences. For example, gender inequality intensifies domestic violence [10]. It seems that the occupying “powers” do not care too much about this issue, because the illusion of “development” and total control of public life are more important to them.

Unfortunately, it is worth mentioning the existence of the problem of gender-based sexual violence against women and children in the occupied Crimea. This problem has existed since the beginning of the occupation of the peninsula and has now reached alarming proportions. The situation is complicated by the fact that Russia’s punitive structures in Crimea are almost unresponsive to such cases, and the statistics of detection of such crimes are extremely low. Today, Ukraine is trying to actualize this problem and inform international institutions about its essence and scale [11]. However, given the difficulty of accessing international observers to the occupied territory of Crimea, Crimean women found themselves alone with the problem.

Gender inequality in Crimea is also manifested in the fact that women who have received convictions “sentences” of Russian courts can not “serve their sentences” on the peninsula, because there is simply no women’s “colony”. They are all forcibly relocated to Russia, in violation of the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War. As a rule, Crimean Tatar women are subjected to ill-treatment and do not receive quality medical care in Russian penitentiaries. However, it is clear that a significant proportion of these “sentences” are political in nature and they are imposed on women with an active social position [12]. It looks like revenge and abuse of women who just want to speak their native language, get an education, exercise their rights and freedoms.

Economic discrimination based on gender must be mentioned. It is manifested primarily in the deprivation of women of the right to certain social benefits and guarantees that were provided in Ukraine. For example, the right of women with many children to receive land, the right to receive benefits by women who have the status of a mother-heroine, restrictions on the right to receive childbirth assistance. There are cases of discrimination on the grounds of “citizenship”. Thus, Crimean women who do not want to receive a “Russian passport” are denied registration of custody, because the occupying “authorities” consider them “foreigners” in the actual Ukrainian territory [12]. This is contrary to all norms of international human rights law. But the realities of the “Russian world” are such that a person may be disenfranchised where his ancestors lived from time immemorial.

Thus, gender inequality in the occupied Crimea is directly linked to the Kremlin’s foreign and domestic policies. It takes the form of discrimination against women on economic, cultural, religious and linguistic grounds and is largely opposed to the desire of Crimean women to protect their rights. The more we observe the activity of women, the more the occupying “authorities” contribute to gender-based offenses. In essence, this is an instrument of influence, because the Russian Federation understands that any “legal” ways to silence women simply do not exist, because it is contrary to fundamental human rights. In trying to play the role of a “democratic state”, Russia has chosen this path, which is humiliating and pathetic. However, this does not make it easier for Ukraine, which is forced to document these offenses and move towards the de-occupation of Crimea.













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