Women fighters in eastern Ukraine

Women are not permitted to participate in acts of war according to an old law, drawn up in Soviet times, but they do so anyway. They fight beside men as snipers, in private brigades, they are rank and file soldiers or take over the command of tanks and aeroplanes. They are registered though – if at all – as cooks and first-aid attendants. This means they receive a far lower salary and nothing to fall back upon in the event of being wounded or even killed. They fight for disability benefits, pensions, for bereavement benefits for their families. A group of soldiers and feminists have taken the problem on and managed to win official recognition for women professionals on the front. Katja Garmasch has spoken to women soldiers in active service, and to those who have returned home, about their problems on the front and in Ukrainian society.

How long is the war due to continue? Everyone says: a very long time, for the West is not interested and Putin is only a little intimidated by western sanctions; what he’s interested in is permanently keeping the conflict in Donbas simmering over a low flame. Meanwhile, both female and male soldiers return from the front traumatized, wounded, incapable of finding their place in society, in this troubled country, in impoverished families.

The report was first broadcasted on 9 September 2016 on WDR and can be listened to in the German original here.

Published 27 September 2016
Original in English
Translated by Ben Tendler
First published by WDR 9. September 2016

© Katja Garmasch / WDR / Eurozine



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