Russian Church against family violence bill
The Patriarch of Moscow criticises the bill currently before the Senate. In his view the data about abuse informing the bill “do not correspond to reality”, but for experts say they are accurate. The family, according to the Orthodox leader, "is a sacred space of people who love each other,” which must be defended from external interference.
Moscow (AsiaNews) – The Patriarch of Moscow Kirill (Gundyayev) has spoken out against a bill against family violence that is currently discussed by Russia’s Federation Council (Senate).
During a solemn liturgy in the Cathedral of the Assumption in the Kremlin on Wednesday, Kirill called for caution, not for lack of concern over family violence, but because "there is something dangerous in recent trends, even in parliament, when in the name of fighting family abuse meddling by external forces in family life is justified.”
The patriarch warns against social, state and even voluntary groups that try to regulate family life. According to the Orthodox leader, "the family is a sacred space of people who love each other", and this love must be preserved, without violence or meddling. External interventions, even in good faith, can lead to devastating consequences; although violence is a very serious sin, meddling is still to be avoided at all costs.
The Patriarchal Commission for the Family echoed the Patriarch’s words in a statement published by Interfax, according to which "the bill contains a series of legal flaws, which make it unacceptable” since it would create a system of rules alternative to the one in force.
Parents and other family members may be subject to restrictions similar to those of criminals, based on the presumption of guilt without real procedural guarantees. According to these rules, any person could be accused of domestic violence without any evidence, based only on suspicions and complaints, so adults could be subjected to "preventive measures" of a repressive nature.
This would push people to use the system against their neighbours and enemies, leading to a situation of suspicion and mutual enmity. For the Patriarchal Commission, "they want to convince our people that the Russian family is just a grim torture chamber for women and children, using statistics that do not correspond to reality.”
According to the data, 40 per cent of violence against women and children takes place within family, and every year 14,000 women are killed by their husbands.
The Patriarchate has challenged the data, claiming that their manipulation would lead to active support of organisations linked to "ideologies radically opposed to the family" promoted by feminists and LGBT activists, which are said to receive extensive funding from abroad.
These accusations have divided Russian society, pitting libertarian movements against the more traditionalist groups. A Member of the State Duma, Oksana Pushkina, has reported receiving threats from militant defenders of Orthodoxy. Even some official representatives of the Orthodox Church have recently made very provocative statements on the subject.
The chairman of the Commission for the family, Protoierey Dmitry Smirnov, last September said that – for educational purposes – the children "can be slapped" because this is "very effective". Last year, Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeyev) said that women victims of domestic abuse should not talk about it in public since "discussing these issues one way or another is propaganda for sin".
Senate Speaker Valentina Matviyenko responded by noting that the main purpose of the bill is to create "an effective public system to prevent violence for people living together.” However, she acknowledges that "different positions" on the issue exist in society, which is why lawmakers are looking for the best compromise to stop domestic violence "without meddling or the use of force.”