Published: 27 Jun 2017 | By Jessica Gavron

By decriminalising domestic violence Russia takes a step backwards

Article

Why domestic violence should be treated differently from stranger violence

At a time when the World Health Organization describes violence against women as “a global health problem of epidemic proportions”, and it is recognised to be a major cause of death and disability of women aged between 16 and 44 years, Russia has taken a deliberate step backwards in the protection of women.

Previously domestic violence had been an offence under Article 116 of the Criminal Code: battery committed with an aggravating motive. The exhaustive list of aggravating motives, from which family violence has now been removed, still includes “hooliganism, political, ideological, racial, ethnic or religious hatred or enmity or hatred or hostility toward a particular social group”. Punishment for this offence includes compulsory labour or imprisonment for up to two years.

The rationale given by MP Yelena Mizulina, who chairs a committee on family and women’s affairs and who proposed the changes, is that a man should not receive a harsher penalty for the violence he metes out on his family than would a stranger.

Read this article in full in the Summer 2017 Bulletin.