Ukraine’s Male-Only Travel Ban Is Also a Women’s Issue

Ukraine’s Male-Only Travel Ban Is Also a Women’s Issue
A woman cries on board a train to Poland at the Lviv railway station (Sipa photo by Mykola Tys via AP Images).

Later this month, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is expected to renew the martial law he declared at the onset of Russia’s illegal invasion, as he has done every 90 days since then. Based on the findings of a new study, however, one component of that law should be reconsidered: the travel restrictions trapping most of the country’s male population aged 18-60 inside Ukraine’s borders.

According to the report, this rule has been unnecessary, since Ukraine has more volunteers than it can train, and strategically counterproductive, since—as I’ve written before—it’s politically divisive and creates a black market in human smuggling. But more importantly, the policy has had dire impacts on Ukraine’s civilian population.

The report—published by Human Security Lab, a research collective I direct at UMass Amherst—was based on two random surveys of all Ukrainian adults carried out by global research firm RIWI; an analysis of citizen comments from online petitions appealing to Zelenskyy to overturn the ban; insights from a series of consultations with conflict analysts, human rights experts, civilian protection practitioners and activists inside Ukraine; and the expertise of an international academic working group including gender experts and human rights lawyers.

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