Kateryna Levchenko: «Negative attitude to domestic violence indicates the level of human rights understanding»
Kateryna Levchenko, the Government Commissioner for Gender policy, talks about the feminist view on criminal justice, the sphere of security and peaceful life of a person, structural violence, countering prejudice regarding the understanding of discrimination and domestic violence, the experience of life in a war situation and the path of the state to a person.
Kateryna Levchenko: You are talking about solidarity with the international community, and I fully support this idea. But the problem with our society is that for the most part, citizens don’t feel discrimination when been discriminated. What will they stand in solidarity with? Even been discriminated, they do not believe that they are in a situation of inequality, everything seems quite normal for them. Can one be taught to identify the rights violations? The answer is “yes”. It is precisely the task of civil society and the state to form a culture of citizens’ perception of their rights and gender aspects, and to respond in case the violation is identified. In other words, we are not talking about unilateral actions, but about the joint creation of a system for responding to such violations.
Media are increasingly paying more attention to the topic of domestic violence. What do you think people should know about this phenomenon?
Kateryna Levchenko: When experts talk about gender-based violence crimes, they emphasize the differences between such a crime and hooliganism and other types of crimes. The Criminal Code of Ukraine specifies three types of bodily injuries: light, moderate and severe. Attribution of bodily injuries to one type or another in each case is carried out on the basis of an expert opinion. But in many cases, causing severe injuries is a deliberate act of hatred. Such crimes must be identified properly. By their very nature, they are associated with micro-power relationships, when one person wants to subjugate the other. For example, psychologists have already proved that man’s violence towards woman is a manifestation of his weakness in comparison with her, his dependence on this method of self-affirmation, when he cannot realise himself somewhere else. In order to identify hate crimes, you need professional knowledge in matters of gender relations and beyond. I believe that this is a serious challenge for the law enforcement system, for jurisprudence, since regulatory norms and professional standards, that could help practitioners, are in a state of “work in progress“.
How should law enforcement officials understand the motivational basis of hate crimes?
Kateryna Levchenko: We need to teach this. And the main work should begin in higher educational institutions, where cadets are trained-students undergoing basic and primary professional training. But so far, unfortunately, there are only a few courses in universities… and therefore a logical question arises: How will an educated person consider the gender component if it was not taught as a part of educational training?
Indisputably, chances are, that person studied well and was reading a lot. But he or she does not know what the gender aspects of criminal justice are, hence, cannot identify hate crimes.
Facts: in the fall of 2018, The Master’s program “Gender Studios” was launched at the Taras Shevchenko National University in Kyiv.