Russia’s Partial Decriminalization of Domestic Abuse

[Original Article:


Author: Feliz Solomon

Published: 8th February 2017

Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed off on a law that partially decriminalizes domestic abuse, a measure that sailed easily through the country’s socially conservative legislature despite push-back from women’s- and children’s-rights advocates.

Under the new law, domestic violence that results in “minor harm,” such as small lacerations and bruising, will now be considered a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $500 or up to 15 days in jail, the Moscow Times reports. Before Tuesday’s amendment, similar offenses carried a penalty of up to two-years in prison.

Second offenses within one year, and cases of extreme violence, will be considered criminal, however.

Legislation was passed last year similarly decriminalizing street assaults. In both cases, the two houses of the country’s legislature voted almost unanimously in favor of the measures.

The new legislation was proposed by ultra-conservative lawmaker Yelena Mizulina, who also successfully lobbied for the passage of a law banning so-called “gay propaganda” in 2013. She argued for decriminalizing domestic violence on the grounds that parents in Russia should have the right to hit their children.

While premised on preventing lengthy prison sentences for parents who discipline their children by spanking or slapping them, critics of the law say that it marks a clear backslide for child protection and could easily undermine women’s rights.

Domestic violence is endemic in Russia and overwhelmingly affects women, who account for about 74% of the country’s victims. Government figures from 2013 indicate that 91% of incidents reported against women were perpetrated by their husbands.

According to the Moscow-based ANNA National Center for the Prevention of Violence, women already see little point in seeking legal recourse for abuse, a situation that could worsen in the new legal environment. Some 74% of women who sought assistance from a national help line never reported abuse to police, the group said.

A 2003 study by Amnesty International concluded that 36,000 women were beaten by their husbands each day in Russia, while government figures from 2008 showed that thousands of women were dying each year at the hands of their spouse or other family member. Independent research also shows links between abuse and alcohol consumption in Russia.

Note on the image:

In many public awareness and human rights campaigns they often use ribbons to be their symbol or icon. Many of us should be aware of the Yellow Ribbon representing awareness for ex-convicts or the Pink Ribbon which is used to raise awareness about breast cancer. The Purple Ribbon as depicted in the image is synonymous with domestic abuse awareness.

Think about it…

How will this affect women and children’s protection?

How will this affect open conversations about domestic violence in Russia? Because if people are not fully protected by the law will they dare to speak up?

Are there possible justifications to why Russia has decided to make this amendment?

What role does the law play in rooting out chronic societal problems such as domestic violence? Are there other means to solve these issues?

Post By: Christine Ow


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