State Duma approves new legislation 380-3. Now it needs the approval of the upper house and President Putin, usually a mere formality. Perpetrators of domestic violence will only be fined. Activists slam the government.
Moscow (AsiaNews) – Russian lawmakers approved Friday a law decriminalising domestic violence, limiting the means for recourse available to victims as well as softening the penalties for their abusers.
Russia’s lower house, the State Duma, voted 380-3 in favour of the bill, which now needs the approval of the upper house and President Vladimir Putin, usually a mere formality.
Under the proposed legislation, first-time offenders who do not cause serious injury will face a fine of up to 30,000 rubles (US$ 500), instead of up to two years in jail as required under the current law.
"We want to show that Russian deputies will not allow the same excesses present in Western Europe," said ruling United Russia lawmaker Andrei Isayev, claiming that European children "inform on their parents" in order to get their way, which leads to the parents losing custody.
Russian human rights activists have harshly criticised the bill, which they believe will undermine the fight against domestic violence, a serious problem in Russia.
Communist members opposed the bill after the Duma Wednesday rejected their proposal to exclude from decriminalisation attacks against children and pregnant women.
“Women often do not go to the police or the courts to complain about their violent husband,” said Yuri Sinelshchikov, a Communist Party official. " Now they will go even less, and the number of murders will increase."
Interior Ministry data 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 domestic violence, and more than 11,000 were badly injured.
According to the Russian state statistics agency, in 2015 there were 49,579 crimes involving violence in the family, of those 35,899 involving violence against a woman.
A survey this month by state-run pollster VTsIOM showed that 19 per cent of Russians said “it can be acceptable” to hit one’s wife, husband or child “in certain circumstances.”
Independent research cited by Human Rights Watch show that the problem is even worse. One study in 2013 found more than 80 per cent of violent crimes against women in Russia are committed by spouses or intimate partners. Up to 36,000 women and 26,000 children face violence in the family every day.
In a 2011 study of 30,000 women in 60 Russian regions, 38 per cent of women said they had been subjected to psychological violence, whilst every fifth respondent said that they had been subjected to physical violence by their husbands or partners.
In a 2005 study of 2,200 people in 50 towns and cities across Russia, 70 per cent of women said they had been subjected to at least one form of violence – physical, sexual, economic, or psychological – by their husbands, and 36 per cent experienced both physical and psychological violence.
Activists accuse the Russian government of failing to prevent domestic violence and ensuring justice for victims. Officials tend not to investigate or even respond to allegations.
The lack of facilities for victims makes matters worse. Moscow as in fact less than 150 shelter spaces for more than 12 million people.