Russia has officially decriminalised domestic violence 'to preserve parental authority'

It just passed in both houses of Russian parliament

Russia / Domestic Abuse
(Image credit: Rex)

It just passed in both houses of Russian parliament

Around 40% of all violent crimes committed in Russia take place within families, according to Russian government statistics. Yet, even though around 36,000 women are assaulted by their husbands or boyfriends at home every day, and an estimated 26,000 children by their parents, a bill to downgrade domestic violence as an administrative, rather than criminal, offence, has recently passed.

Their reasoning? They apparently want to preserve 'tradition of parental authority.' A total of 368 lawmakers voted in favour of it at the duma, Russia's lower house of parliament, with one 'no' and one person abstaining from voting. This comes after President Vladimir Putin declared family violence a criminal offence for the first time in the country last July.

Russian MP Yelena Mizulina, who introduced the bill, says people should not be imprisoned and deemed a criminal 'for a slap'. According to one of the bill's authors, Olga Batalina, this applies to actions that cause injuries that don't require hospital treatment or sick leave from work.

This means, that under the rule, any 'battery within the family' will just result in community service, a fine or a very brief prison term. Only if the offence is committed more than twice in one year will it be labelled a criminal offence.

To put it plainly, any domestic injuries in a spouse or child that causes bleeding or bruising (but no broken bones) will only result in anything up to 15 days in prison, a fine or community service - as long as a similar incident doesn't occur more than once a year. Now, if you're a repeat offender, you'll be faced with a higher fine, longer community service and up to a three months prison sentence (rather than two years, as was previously being served.)

Conservative Yelena Mizulina said: 'In the traditional family culture in Russia, parent-child relationships are built on the authority of the parents’ power. The laws should support that family tradition.'

'If you slap your mischievous kid, you’re threatened with up to two years [in prison]. But if your neighbour beats your child — everything ends with an administrative punishment, Yelena Mizulina tweeted, 'How many more families will waste police resources, while the duma discusses [the proposed changes]? … there are 20 million families with children in the Russian Federation. All of them are in danger.'

Petition founder and activist Alena Popova gathered almost hundreds of thousands of signatures to protest the bill but her efforts were overruled by the easy passing of this bill within Russian parliament.

'Every 12 minutes in Russia someone beats a member of their family,'Alena has said. 'These lawmakers believe that fines for domestic tyrants is better than criminal liability.'

Delphine Chui