Domestic violence against women in Russia has been a problematic issue for decades. With recent amendments to Russia’s law on domestic violence, more women are at risk of further abuse and violence.
Domestic violence can be defined as “violence or aggression/ other abuse by one person against another in a domestic setting, such as within a marriage or cohabitation.
According a documentary on BBC (Stacey Dooley investigates: Russia’s war on women) over 1000 women are are being killed in Russia as a result of domestic violence. Victims of domestic abuse reported that in Russia there is a saying which states “if he beats you it means he loves you”. Victims are questioned about what they did to provoke the perpetrator of abuse instead of perpetrators being questioned about their actions.
The new amendments made to the Russian law on domestic violence suggest that, some forms of violence have been decriminalised. This means that, if a wife or indeed a family member is assaulted and battered but not severely enough to hospitalise them and if it is the perpetrators first offence, the perpetrator no longer goes to prison but rather receives a fine between 5 and 30,000 rubbles (around £350) or up to 15 days in prison.
Jenny Stallard (2018) research for the BBC reported that many MP’s argue that “the new law protects the family unit- it stops the police from interfering in private matters between a husband and wife. It’s known as the “slapping law”- this is based on a comment made by one of Russian MP Yelena Mizulina who said that “in Russian traditional families, the relationship between parents and their children is built on authority and power. She then mentioned that is ridiculous that people could be branded criminals “for a slap”.
The issue with the amendments is that by decriminalising some forms of violence, children witnessing abuse are likely to grow up with the understanding that violence is a normal way of life.
UNICEF research (Behind Closed Doors) about the impact of domestic violence on children suggests that there is a strong likelihood that this (domestic violence) will become a continuing cycle of violence for the next generation. The impact of this on children includes added emotional stress which can impact development.
Another issue with the amendment is that some traditional orthodox churches are in support of the amendment claiming that, the state should not interfere with marriage and family matters as the idea of domestic violence is a western influence.
German Sterligov (Ex Russian Millionaire) reported on the documentary (Stacey Dooley investigates: Russia’s war on women) that “you are the enemy of your sins if you spare the rod. Anyone who disagrees with this is a Satanist and an enemy of God. A woman must be slightly afraid of her lord and master”- referring to the Orthodox faith.
Poverty is also another contributing factor to further violence against women in Russia as wives may be financially dependent on their husbands. For this reason if an offence is reported and the partner is charged, the money to pay off the fine will likely come of out of the family’s joint account which will further impact the family financially. It is estimated that there is over 10 million people living in poverty in Russia.
Although this new amendment is applicable in Russia, it cannot be dismissed that there are Russians living in the United Kingdom who may hold such believes and practice violence. There may be women from Russia in the United Kingdom who are being affect by this practice but are unable to voice their struggles due to the traditional belief that ““if he beats you it means he loves you”.
For support around domestic violence, it is recommended that contact is made with 24-hour National Domestic Violence Freephone Helpline on 0808 2000 247. The National Domestic violence Helpline run in partnership between Women’s Aid and Refuge. It is a national service for women experiencing domestic violence, their family, friends, colleagues and others calling on their behalf.
The Helpline can give support, help and information over the telephone, wherever the caller might be in the country. The Helpline is staffed 24 hours a day by fully trained female helpline support workers and volunteers. All calls are completely confidential. There is translation facilities for callers whose first language is not English, and services for callers who are deaf or hard of hearing are available. In cases of emergency please call 999.
References and Further Reading