[Trigger warning for discussion of rape and violence.] This morning, at 7:30 a.m. Donetsk time, Oksana Makar passed away. Her lungs began to bleed and then she went into cardiac arrest. The doctors attempted to resuscitate her for an hour, to no avail.
The doctors said from the beginning that her chances were slim, that the fact that she had lived through what she lived through was, in and of itself, a miracle.
The burn center director, Emil Fistal, said “Ð’Ñ‹ Ð¶Ðµ Ð¿Ð¾Ð½Ð¸Ð¼Ð°ÐµÑ‚Ðµ, 10 Ñ‡Ð°ÑÐ¾Ð² Ð¿Ñ€Ð¾Ð²ÐµÑÑ‚Ð¸ Ð½Ð° Ð¼Ð¾Ñ€Ð¾Ð·Ðµ! ÐžÐ½Ð° Ð´Ñ‹ÑˆÐ°Ð»Ð° Ð¿Ñ€Ð¾Ð´ÑƒÐºÑ‚Ð°Ð¼Ð¸ Ð³Ð¾Ñ€ÐµÐ½Ð¸Ñ, ÑÑ‚Ñ€Ð°Ð´Ð°Ð»Ð¸ Ð»ÐµÐ³ÐºÐ¸Ðµ, Ñ‚Ð»ÐµÐ»Ð¸ ÑÑ‚Ð¸ Ñ‚Ñ€ÑÐ¿ÐºÐ¸, ÐºÐ¾Ð½ÐµÑ‡Ð½Ð¾ Ð¸ Ð¿ÐµÑ€ÐµÐ¾Ñ…Ð»Ð°Ð¶Ð´ÐµÐ½Ð¸Ðµ ÑÑ‹Ð³Ñ€Ð°Ð»Ð¾ ÑÐ²Ð¾ÑŽ Ñ€Ð¾Ð»ÑŒ.”
“Can you imagine, 10 hours in the frost! She was breathing in products of combustion, and her lungs suffered, her clothes were smoldering, and of course hypothermia played a role.”
In case you haven’t heard about this story, the 18-year-old was gang-raped, strangled, and left for dead in a construction pit, where she burned alive all night long, simultaneously smoldering and getting hypothermia, until a passer-by found her in the morning. She had burns over 55% of her body, several of her organs failed, her feet and one arm were amputated. The three men being held for the crime were initially released, perhaps because of relatives in high places. Protests were held for Makar, and when the pressure was on, the men were picked back up. But she lived.
This happened three weeks ago. She was initially unable to be transported, but was airlifted to Donetsk, where hope for her recovery grew. She lived through so much. And now she is dead. She was her mother’s only child.
At some point in the next week, I will write about the silver linings of this case, and there are some: corruption is a huge problem in Ukraine, and with this case being so high-profile, this could be a big step in the right direction. Corruption won’t be eliminated, but certainly people will think more carefully about what laws they choose to break for whom. Rape is being openly discussed, and people are standing up for women’s rights. Communities are coming together to try to instigate change.
But for now, although I know that the silver linings exist, I can’t yet delve into them. It remains to be seen what kind of impacts will be had, but beyond that, my heart hurts. It hurts for the woman who endured so much torture, and it hurts for a mother that lost her only child, and it hurts for people who get swept up into horrible situations without thinking, and it hurts for people who, instead of understanding humanity, are willing to point fingers at a victim. It hurts that we live in the kind of world that we live in, and it hurts that this kind of thing can happen in a country that I love so much.
Oksana’s funeral will be held on Saturday morning in Mykolayiv. Makar’s mother has invited anybody who wants to say goodbye.