The problem of domestic violence is one that remains prevalent in all areas of the world and has been around since the beginning of time. More legal steps have been taken within the past few decades to address this scourge, yet it appears Russia is prepared to go back in time as they stand ready to decriminalize the problem.
Perhaps the most shocking aspect of this move is the vote within the Russian Duma, or parliament, that saw it pass almost unanimously. The 380-3 vote allows for the hitting of wives, partners or children as long as they don’t cause what’s cryptically written as substantial bodily harm. All that’s currently delaying it from officially becoming the new law is the signature of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who had previously endorsed the move.
One of the motivations for the law was a legal change last July which made committing battery against a family member a crime, yet decriminalized it against strangers. Yet simply getting law enforcement in Russia to investigate such complaints is usually a challenge.
The scope of the problem within Russia can be seen in some simple numbers. Four years ago, more than 9,000 women were killed in criminal acts and 11,000 suffered severe injuries. Roughly one-quarter of all the murders the following year were related to family disputes. In comparison, the United States averages approximately 1,000 deaths per year from domestic violence cases, even though America’s population is twice that of Russia.
For those who end up being convicted of such crimes, the punishments amounts to a slap on the wrist. The first offense won’t be classified as a criminal act, with a maximum fine of 30,000 rubles, or $500, and a maximum sentence of 15 days or 120 hours of community service.