It was a lonely protest in the cold, in front of the lower house of the Russian Parliament. In mid-January, Alena Popova and her two supporters stood with raised placards on which were written by Russian proverb: “Love your wife as soul, shake her like a pear”. Deputies, meanwhile, has decided that the predominant majority of 368 votes in favour, with one abstention and one vote against to approve the domestic violence bill in the first reading. Today, Wednesday, a law was passed in the second reading.
Further steps up to the implementation of the law is a mere formality. Criminal offense domestic violence will only be the case if the victim will have to take him to the hospital due to his injuries; or if during the year there have been many incidents with violence. Beatings inflicted by the wife or child once a year, will be considered a violation of public order, for them is a penalty in the amount of from 85 to 470 euros.
In the first reading Olga batalina, which is one of the authors of the bill, said in Parliament: “However, we are talking about bruising and abrasions; needless to say, it’s too bad”.
According to the Russian interior Ministry, three of the five cases of domestic violence victims are women. More than 90% of all incidents of violence committed by husbands. Official information about the cases of domestic violence in Russia is not collected. In the estimates it is customary to proceed from the fact that in Russia every 40 minutes a woman dies due to the effects of domestic violence. For the year — 14 thousand women. In order to visualize the unimaginable scale of the problem, the Russian movement “No to violence” compares Russia with figures from the United States. In the United States live in two times more people than in Russia. But it takes eight years before in the United States as a result of domestic violence die the same number of women as in Russia for a year.
This is not a problem of a marginal part of society
The individual activist and entrepreneur Alena Popova know about the incidents of violence in their environment. Best friend Popova’s husband was beaten during pregnancy so that she lost the baby and since then can no longer get pregnant. The victim’s mother reacted by saying: “Beats — means loves”. Russian women — public persona regularly to talk about their experiences related to domestic violence, to break social taboo.
Anna lead, former press Secretary of opposition leader Alexei Navalny, beat former partner. The mother of the offender, of which this was told, was blamed on Lead: she allegedly provoking the son of his hysteria. Veduta told about its history on Facebook to expose the myth that domestic violence is a problem of people belonging to the fringes of society, for example, families with problem of alcohol dependence. “This applies to well educated people who speak many foreign languages and regularly travel around the world”.
Two steps back
In addition to public boycott, the Russian government does not provide legal protection to victims of domestic violence. For more than 20 years, women’s organizations are trying to improve the situation and ensure that the same law against beating which exists in 143 countries. Until today without success, the last time the bill failed in Parliament in 2014. For many years, the UN criticizes Russia for what she is taking little steps for the protection of women. And this despite the fact that the country ratified the UN Convention on the rights of women, which obliges to take all necessary measures to protect women from violence. Last summer, still managed to slightly improve the situation: family members as possible offenders has made to the Russian criminal code.
Decriminalization, which is now debating, is a direct attack archconservative wing of Putin’s party “United Russia” under the leadership of Elena Mizulina and the Russian Orthodox Church on this small success. Even then she fought against changes to the law, arguing that victims of domestic violence and already sufficiently protected by applicable laws.
This contradicts data from the center for prevention of violence “Anna”. Only about every tenth case of the beating reported to the police. Many rumors have caused incidents in which even the police are unable to help. In August 2015 the father of the family from Nizhny Novgorod killed his wife and six children. Earlier his wife six times addressed in police with the complaint to violent outbursts of her husband. But the police could not act because the incident fell into the category of private prosecution cases. “It is therefore not surprising that many victims of domestic violence believe that any law will not protect them, is critical to notice Anna Kirey of the Russian branch of Amnesty International.
The violence to which society is tolerant
Supporters of decriminalization are referring to traditional family values. 62-year-old Deputy Mizulina gained popularity because she initiated laws against so-called homosexual propaganda. In September, Mizulina said in an interview with the media: “In Russia, the traditional family, relations between parents and children are based on authority and power.” The Russian Orthodox Church has distinguished more and called violence against children by parents a God-given right. This suggests that violence is seen as a way of solving problems, right recognize for those who are stronger. Popov intends — despite the futility — re-raise placards in front of Parliament.