The condition of a young woman who was gang-raped, burned and left for dead in a Mykolayiv, Ukraine, construction-site ditch seems to be improving after she was put in an induced coma and moved to a new hospital, doctors say.
The incident, which occurred earlier this month, shocked Ukraine, sparking protests across the country about the way police and prosecutors handled the case. Members of parliament have called for Ukraine to institute the death penalty for the three accused men, and one suggested that the alleged rapists be castrated.
Oksana Makar, 18, said that on March 9, she was invited by two young men, ages 21 and 23, to their friend’s apartment, where the three men allegedly gang-raped her, tried to choke her to death, wrapped her in a sheet, took her to a construction site, dumped her in a pit and set her on fire, according to the Kyiv Post.
The next day a man heard moaning coming from the construction site. He saw something moving under a charred sheet, and found Makar barely alive. He called the police, and Makar was rushed to the hospital. Fifty-five percent of her skin is gone, her kidneys were completely burned, and one of her arms and both her feet had to be amputated, according to the Kyiv Post.
She regained consciousness after surgery, but on Friday doctors induced a coma and moved her from a hospital in Mykolayiv to a burn treatment center in Donetsk. Doctors there told the Kviv Post today her condition has stabilized, but her outlook is still uncertain.
After undergoing surgery, Makar recounted what she could remember to the police. The suspects were arrested that day, but two of them were released soon after. A spokeswoman for the Mykolayiv prosecutor’s office said local officials did not have enough evidence to hold them, according to the Kyiv Post, so they were classified as witnesses. The third man, who is 23, was named a suspect.
No one from the prosecutor’s office questioned Makar, saying that she was not conscious, despite the fact that her mother insisted she was awake and able to talk, according to the Kyiv Post.
The young woman gave an interview to Gazeta.ua, in which she discussed the attack and how investigators from the prosecutor’s office finally came to talk to her.
“I remember the bar and how we went to visit. Then I lost consciousness,” In an interview with Gazeta.ua, Makar said. “There was a gap…I remember when I was choked. And when I regained consciousness, I remember myself lying during the night. I thought I would not survive. I could not feel my body. At first, I was screaming for help. But there was nobody there, I began to pray. I thought I had died. I remember it all as if in a fog.”
After Ukraine’s chief police officer, Vitaly Zakharchenko confirmed reports that the two men who were released are the sons of former government officials and a video of one of the suspects calmly describing the attack was posted to YouTube, where it was viewed 100,000 times in the first day, there were protests across the country.
The public outcry reached Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, who ordered General Prosecutor Viktor Pshonka to take charge of the case. On March 13, the two men were arrested, and all three suspects are charged with attempted murder.
The women’s rights group Femen, who stage topless protests against prostitution and sex trafficking, organized a demonstration in front of the General Prosecutors Office of Ukraine in the capital, Kyiv. They chanted “Death to the Sadists!” and “Execute the bastards!”
“If everyone keeps silent, then these men will be free,” said said Inna Shevcenko, one of the participants in the protest.
The Femen activists plan to stage a topless protest in next week in Mykolayiv.
“My child has survived. And this is important. Everybody counted on her dying. And that she wouldn’t give evidence. But she survived,” Makar’s mother, Tetyana Surovitska, said in an interview with Gazeta.ua.
“My daughter is only 18. She hasn’t done anything in her life and has already lost everything,” Surovitska told the Kyiv Post. “Now my main aim is to make sure the bastards that hurt her are punished.”