Despite 36,000 women assaulted daily, Russia moves to decriminalise domestic violence

The controversial bill passed its first stage, with 368 votes in favour and one against

Despite 36,000 women assaulted daily, Russia moves to decriminalise domestic violence

Statistics reveal that 40% of violent crimes in Russia take place in the home [Pixabay]

The Russian parliament has given the first stage of approval to a bill that will decriminalise a number of aspects of domestic violence, with the legislation designed to protect the “tradition of parental authority.”

Proposed by Yelena Mizulina, the ultra-conservative politician who spearheaded Russia’s controversial laws concerning the rights of the country’s LGBT citizens, the bill will remove “battery within families” from Russia’s criminal code, essentially denying the victims of violence within the home the right to press charges against their aggressors.

“In Russian tradition family culture, parent-child relationships are built on the authority of the parents’ power,” Mizulina told a parliamentary session of the Duma in Moscow ahead of the vote. “The law should support that family tradition.”

The bill passed with 368 votes in favour, with only one member of parliament voting against it.

A change in the law after less than a year

President Vladimir Putin only introduced Russia’s first every law specifically directed at domestic violence last July. The criminal code was amended to protect ‘close ones’ of an aggressor, covering a suspect’s children, spouse, parents, siblings, and other relatives. Battery, without consequences to their health, is now punishable with a jail term by up to two years.

The law change was well received by women’s rights groups in Russia, who claim that as many as 10,000 Russian women die every year as a result of domestic violence, while 36,000 women are assaulted by their partners every day. Furthermore, official statistics gathered by the Russian government say that 40% of all serious violent crime takes place in the home.

But ever since Putin amended the criminal code, Yelena Mizulina and her supporters have protested.

“Battery carried out towards family members should be an administrative offence,” she said. “You don’t want people to be imprisoned for two years and labelled a criminal for the rest of their lives for a slap.”

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