On Friday, the Russian Parliament voted in a landslide 380-3 victory to decriminalize domestic violence. This would not decriminalize all domestic violence but just the cases that fail to produce “substantial bodily harm” and assaults do not happen more than once a year. So effective Jan 27th, if you beat your wife once a year and it’s “not that bad” it’s okay in Russia.
According to USA Today, if passed, this would eliminate the criminal liability in such cases and make a violation punishable by a fine of roughly $500 or 15 days in jail, so long as there is no repeat offense in 12 months.
The bill will now go to Russia’s upper chamber, where it seems there is no opposition. Then Vladimir Putin, who has signaled his support, will sign the bill into law. According to The Economist, Russia is one of three countries in Europe and Central Asia that do not have laws specifically targeting domestic violence.
Those in opposition of this new measure are worried that this will encourage the use of domestic violence, as they absolutely should be. Andrei Sinelnikov of the Anna Centre, a violence-prevention charity, said, “the overall message to Russian citizens is that domestic violence isn’t a crime.”
Mari Davtyan, a women’s rights lawyer, told the Moscow Times that these legislative moves are dangerous and that, “bruises easily turn into more serious bodily harm, and it’s dangerous to draw a line. Not punishing for bruises, but waiting for more serious harm.”
Unfortunately, cases of domestic violence go unnoticed by police in Russia all the time. Apparently, it is far too common for a woman to report violence to the police, only for them to not act on it. Sadly, domestic violence still remains a problem in most major countries around the world. It is a very serious crime and should be treated as such.
In the United States, countless women have been killed by a lover or husband, and many were too afraid to report it. Take action, even if it only happened one time. Your life could depend on it. There are trained and experienced resources available to help you, and you can even call anonymously.
If you are a victim of domestic violence call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or TTY 1-800-787-3224