There is no vaccine for human rights violations


The Crusader

The Ukrainian flag is displayed outside a house in the Sunnyside neighborhood.

Angela Jia '25, Staff Reporter

It’s obvious we’re living in an “unprecedented and difficult time.” We hear it everywhere: from the Walgreens announcement to every back-to-school brochure to that diaper commercial on channel 5. However, what they’re talking about is the spiky little virus that we all know and hate as COVID-19.

The “unprecedented and difficult time” that I’m thinking about isn’t the pandemic: rather, it’s the uptick of human rights violations happening all around the world.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has sparked international anger. That anger increased when it came to light that Russian troops have been deliberately targeting civilians. 3,153 Ukrainian civilians have been killed, and that is 3,153 too many. In a time such as war, violence and death are to be expected. However, there are acts so cruel and antithetical to humanity that it is even outlawed in war.

According to Human Rights Watch, “The laws of war prohibit willful killing, rape… torture… pillage and looting are also prohibited.” Anyone who commits such acts is responsible for war crimes. All of these things listed—execution, looting, torture, rape—have been allegedly committed by Russian soldiers.

But to ignore even the unequal burden of those suffering from the crimes would be unjust. The UN Security Council has reported that women bear the disproportionate brunt of war.

Existing inequalities exacerbate and women are more vulnerable to sexual abuse, which has become a weapon of war. Indeed, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky says investigators have received reports on “hundreds of cases of rape” in areas occupied by Russian troops.

Sickening accounts of a mother of four being gang raped, a woman with a swastika burned on her body, an elderly woman wishing she’d been killed instead of raped, minors as young as 10 having unspeakable things done to them, ought to plague our minds. However, as NPR ackowledges, rape—especially war time rape—is hardly reported and even less likely to be prosecuted.

While the COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly been one of the most difficult events the world has ever struggled with, there are solutions: Quarantine. Social distance. Wear masks. Find a cure. Take the vaccine.

But a vaccine cannot cure the deliberate atrocities committed upon human rights.