Published: 9 Dec 2016 | By Anahit Simonyan

Domestic violence in Russia, Ukraine and the South Caucasus


The laws of patriarchy and government-sponsored torture of women?

The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (‘CEDAW Committee’) in its recent Concluding Observations on the State reports of Russia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia raised a number of serious concerns regarding the situation with gender-based violence and discrimination in these countries. The alarming rates of violence against women (‘VAW’), poor implementation of the laws on domestic violence, lack of support services and shelters, widespread discrimination and marginalisation of women and inadequacy of legislative and policy frameworks were among the main issues addressed by the CEDAW Committee. Yet, at the same time, the scale of the problem, existing trends and statistics indicate that domestic violence and other forms of VAW are still being largely ignored by these countries’ criminal justice systems and these issues do not receive meaningful attention from governments and society more widely.

Focusing on domestic violence as just one form of gender-based violence against women, this article analyses the scale of the problem and some of the trends and attitudes towards the issue of domestic violence and intimate-partner violence (‘IPV’) against women in Russia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia. The article argues that domestic violence is a form of torture, as defined by the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (‘CAT’). In light of governmental inaction the article suggests that domestic violence should now be regarded as a state-sponsored form of torture against women in this region, where patriarchal norms and rules override the rights and freedoms of women formally guaranteed domestically and internationally.

Read the full report in the Winter 2016 Bulletin.