Don’t drive alone – take a friend. How Martynka helps Ukrainian women fleeing the war

Nastia Podorożnia He has been living in Poland for 8 years. He came from Ukraine to study at Jagiellonian University. She is a journalist, interested in sex education, and writes for the Ukrainian media on women’s rights in Poland. Recently, she and volunteers created a bot on Telegram called Martinka, which supports Ukrainian women who have escaped the war or have already survived.

On February 24, he found Nastia in Lviv – he came to his sister, who had recently moved there from Kiev with three children. Because the country was already in turmoil. On February 24, they decided to flee to Poland. They lined up at the border for 18 hours. The first thought that came to mind was to go and help. “Lera – my sister – didn’t ask where they were staying, we just had to volunteer,” Nastia said.

He leaves his projects, works and works as a volunteer editor in the Ukrainian edition in Krakow. He is instructed to speak with the delegates WADI [Stowarzyszenie pomocy kryzysowej i współpracy na rzecz rozwoju – niemiecka organizacja wspierająca kobiety oraz promująca równość kobiet i mężczyzn] about human trafficking. Experts, including the organization’s director Thomas von der Osten-Sacken, tell him how it is in Central Europe.

“It was the 10th day of the war and it was not yet thought that aid was a bad story.”

ー says Nastia. During a war, no one thinks in the first place that the person offering the night can force him or force him to work.

“A WADI expert told me that when he put up a poster at a help desk in Krakow with information about such a threat, other volunteers told him: >>why do you scare people “Then I realized I had to do something about it,” Nastia said.

We talked to Wiola Rębecka-Davie about sexual violence during the wars:

Do not drive alone. Take a friend with you

Nastia is creating a free hotline ー Telegram bot, that will accompany girls and women on their way to safety from Ukraine. The bot responds in the language of the person requesting the phone (there are four options: Ukrainian, Russian, English and Polish).

Martynka ー This is the name of his sister’s daughter. Martinka, because Mars is the god of war, and Martinka will be the protector of Ukrainian women. “I chose a female name so that the girls could write to their friends,” says Nastia.

Martinka’s friends will help her find a lawyer, a psychologist, a doctor and, if necessary, even go to the Polish police, ”Martinka wrote in her first Instagram post.

In the beginning, when creating “Martynka”, Nastia generally thought about the safety of women – the activity of “friends” did not focus on sexual violence. However, when he learned of the rape in Wroclaw, Krzysztof J., 49, sexually abused a 19-year-old Ukrainian woman he took to his home. ー Not very surprised. S.but survived an attempted rape in Krakow’s Błonia Park four years ago. So she decided to help Ukrainian women who had been sexually abused in Poland (for example, by people offering accommodation) or in Ukraine (from Russian soldiers).

What can be done to help such a person? Go to the police together, translate from Ukrainian to Polish at the police station, support the services so that people are not afraid to testify and report crimes. And here “Martynka” and the team behind it help.

Many people fleeing the war want to help

For Martynka, there are mainly psychologists, designers and translators from Ukraine – refugees and those who have lived in Poland longer. Nastia reviews via social media – you can apply.

Psychologists are the most important. This is what Martynka writers ask the most. “People who have been abused and, for example, those who are afraid to take to the streets after the attack, write. Some talk about their children’s problems when they are crying, moaning, or gnashing their teeth. Another wants to talk about adapting to a new place. >> I ran and suffocated all my emotions << - wrote a man who found himself in a Western European country, "Nastia Zaborona writes in a text on her website.

Currently, five psychologists help Martynka, but it is not enough. Nastya herself does not sleep much, because at night she talks to people who come to Martynka and need help.

“A woman with recent vaginal bleeding wrote last night. I was looking for a gynecologist in Wrocław, I thought I was going crazy. But the situation was not easy – the woman did not want to talk about what happened. Maybe he is in a violent relationship? ー Nastia tells It is known that this is a woman with children who fled 24 hours before the war and now lives with a man she knew before.

I found a good psychologist, but not always. The easiest way to do this is in large cities – Krakow, Warsaw, Wroclaw and Gdansk, where there are many professionals who want to help. It turns out that psychologists from Ukraine help via Skype.

They don’t always say: I was raped

Women from Bucza also wrote to Martynka, often asking for an interview with a psychologist.

“Please identify the problem. They say, “What else can I say here?” I need to talk to someone. “I’m not raped,” Nastia said. It is not about aggression in all cases, but it is often about traumatic war experiences.

Nastia ends her 25 years by responding to teenagers who were raped by Bucza. We know this from his Instagram. Nastia says there are more such girls and women, but she asks reporters not to ask her about these stories. As a result, women gain confidence in Martynka. He writes: “My birthday ended so well that I acted as a mediator in helping the victims of child rape in Buczada. There are more than a hundred of them (I do not know the details and I will not help journalists in dealing with the victims). I’m very worried that we’re not eating in the hope that “maybe it wasn’t so bad.” It was very bad. “

Ukrainian Ombudsman Liudmila Denisova in an interview with Suspilne provides informationAfter the liberation of the Kyiv region, the Ukrainian Armed Forces began to report victims of sexual violence. From April 1 to April 14, 400 people applied to the 24-hour free psychological help line established jointly with UNICEF. And they call again. Psychologists emphasize that the victims of sexual violence are not only women and girls, but also children, the elderly and men.

What happens to these people? Most of them stay in hospitals in Ukraine.

Solidarity with Ukrainian women, Belarusian activists in Krakow (Bysol Foundation, founded in Belarus) collection for Ukrainian womenoffered to transport women who had been sexually abused by Russian soldiers from Ukrainian hospitals to Poland, Germany or other safe countries for rehabilitation.

They replied, “These women are not yet fit to move.”

To help the rapists, activists around her say dozens of women in critical condition remain in hospitals in Kyiv or Chernigov (and other Ukrainian cities), Anastasia said. Volunteers even talk about those who died as a result of rape. Victims and their families are not yet able to talk about it, and many cases remain undisclosed – so it is not possible to estimate the number of victims at the institutional level.

Abortion assistance in Poland

During the day, an average of five women visit Martinka to learn how to find a safe job in Poland and not be a victim of violence, abortion, birth control pills, and more. asks about. As for the last point: refugees do not know what they have, do, do not know the language, and often do not have the money to go to the doctor for a prescription (in any case, he can refuse). And you can wait up to two weeks for public health (not too long by Polish standards in health, the next day is two weeks too long in the context of pills).

“It shouldn’t even be possible for someone to help someone take a contraceptive pill. This is a violation of fundamental human rights. ”

ー Nastia notes.

The hotline (no chat, no phone number) “Martynki” cooperates with the international organization Women on the Web, which assists in such matters. Please help Women on the Internet Available in Ukrainian.

“Since the start of the war in Ukraine, at least 158 ​​people who fled to Poland before the war and had unwanted pregnancies have contacted Abortion Without Borders. They were all helped, “he wrote on Instagram Abortion Dream Team.

Other organizations that can help you find a safe abortion Women help women and the Aioć network. And it doesn’t matter why a woman wants to terminate a pregnancy. No one in these organizations asks that. Nastia emphasizes that what matters is the woman’s decision.

For some time, Martynka has also been cooperating with the Kolektyw Dzień Po team, which provides emergency contraception.

Also read: Day Po Collective: help when emergency contraception is needed. You can too

Pro-life organizations are not only intimidating Polish women

During the two months of the war, anti-abortion movements were also active, as evidenced by the distribution of posters or leaflets with fetuses in the blood at railway stations shortly after the arrival of the refugees.

Martynka warns Ukrainian women before leaving for Poland. “The important message for me is that this is your body. “If you don’t want an abortion – that’s great, if you want to terminate your pregnancy – you have the right to do so,” said the founder of Martynki.

QR in the toilet

With Anastasia Przemyś, then goes to Lviv – so that information about the existence of “Martynka” is spread as widely as possible. Women fleeing the war often pass through these cities. He and his friend hang leaflets at railway stations. He leaves them to the volunteers. He sends postcards with information for volunteers in Kyiv and Mukachevo.

“I never thought I would be able to contact anyone in the toilet using a QR code,” said Martynka from a woman who saw a pink and yellow card in a toilet in Przemyśl.

Martynka does not openly shout about violence in the leaflets: the bot offers Ukrainian women a company in any case, even if they do not feel alone and have someone to talk to. Not just when something bad happens. In Lviv, volunteers were concerned that dark posters warning of human trafficking and sexual violence, threatening their hands, women and blood, were discouraging people from using the aid. Active explains:

“These posters have low graphic quality, are very aggressive and scary. You read it and you don’t believe it can happen to you. This is an abstract story for you. “

In the following pictures: “Martynki” leaflets at stations, toilets, help desks:


While Nastia is pasting leaflets at the Lviv train station, her boyfriend Armen is fighting in Russia. He is the founder DOXA magazineHe opposes war, dictatorship and inequality in Russia. In April 2021, Armen Aramjan was charged for inciting minors to protest. Like other journalists of the magazine: Natasza Tyszkiewicz, Ałla Gutnikova and Wołodia Mietielkin. A year later, in April 2022, the verdict was issued – two years of “correctional work.” The incident was described by the newspaper Wyborcza.

On April 12, Nastia wrote on Instagram: “I was handing out Martinka’s leaflets that the judge had sentenced all @doxa_journal to two years in prison. Hell they know what that means and when I see my wife. I just have no idea. But it’s wonderful that they are now free to leave home. ”

Nastia also recently sent leaflets to volunteers helping Ukrainians forcibly evacuated from Mariupol to Russia. They will learn from the leaflet that the best way to get away from here is to go to Estonia via St. Petersburg.

Krystyna Garbicz

He is a journalist, correspondent and “ambassador” of Ukraine to Poland. He graduated from Jagiellonian University with a degree in journalism. He writes on the portal for Ukrainians in Krakow – UAinKrakó and Kharkiv Gwara Media. He recently participated in an open Krakow project – the Multicultural Center for Foreigners in Krakow.

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