Russia’s parliament voted 380-3 on Friday to decriminalize domestic violence in cases where it does not cause “substantial bodily harm” and does not occur more than once a year.The bill stems from a Supreme Court ruling last summer to decriminalize battery that doesn’t inflict bodily harm, but to retain criminal charges for those accused of battery against family members. Conservative activists objected, saying the ruling meant a parent spanking a child could be punished more harshly than a non-relative striking the child. In Conservative Russian circles there’s been a push to re-establish traditional ways of disciplining family members. Ultra-conservative lawmaker Yelena Mizulina, who also authored Russia’s “gay propaganda” ban, then introduced the bill to decriminalize domestic violence. In many ways, this reflects the thrust of an old Russian proverb: “If he beats you it means he loves you.”
The move, which eliminates criminal liability in such cases, makes a violation punishable by a fine of roughly $500, or a 15-day arrest, provided there is no repeat within 12 months. The bill now goes to the rubber-stamp upper chamber, where no opposition is expected. It then must be signed by President Vladimir Putin, who has signaled his support.
It’s not a traditional value. It’s a crime. “
Russia is one of three countries in Europe and Central Asia that do not have laws specifically targeting domestic violence, according to The Economist. Data on domestic violence in Russia are obscure, but Interior Ministry statistics show that 40 per cent of all violent crimes in Russia are committed in family surroundings. In 2013, more than 9,000 women were reported to have been killed in incidents of domestic violence.
The Moscow-based Anna Center foundation, which runs Russia’s only domestic violence hotline, received more than 5,000 calls last year. The foundation says many more calls that go unanswered since the line operates only between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m. The Duma bill “is not going to improve the situation to say the least,” said Irina Matvienko, who runs the hotline. “Domestic violence is a system which makes it difficult for a woman to seek help,” she said. “It’s not a traditional value. It’s a crime. ”
Until we stop condoning physical assaults against children by everyone – including parents and guardians – we will not be involved in a positive, proactive, preventative violence effort. Our campaign Free Yourself Global explores the enculturation of violence through families over generations, and how does one, whether the abuser or the abused, interrupt the pattern of violence? Check out our website freeyourselfglobal.com to learn more about this project and how you can contribute and / or share your story with us today. This initiative hopes to bring together all of the voices of the participants of domestic violence, including recovering abusers, victims, children, educators, support agencies and health professionals, law enforcement agencies, politicians, celebrities and social entrepreneurs who work to aid in this cause.