Coronavirus in Russia surges in domestic violence during lockdown: inert state and women fined when they report


There quarantine from coronavirus has aggravated the problem of Domestic violence all over the world, but in Russia, where the blows in the family were decriminalized in 2017 and where there is no law on the matter, the state remains inert, while the ultraconservative carry on their agenda. According to a letter to the attorney general sent last week by some deputies of the Putin party United Russia – including Vitalij Milonov, known for promoting the anti-gay law – data testifying to the growth of domestic violence in Russia during the quarantine – + 24% of calls to the Telefono Rosa as early as March – denigrate “the institution of family and marriage”. MEPs ask to verify them, citing instead the statistics of the Ministry of the Interior that give crimes in the family down by 13% in the first four months of 2020.

In early April, even before the alarm of the UN secretary general, Antonio GuterresOn the increase in violence against women during the pandemic, non-profit organizations have asked the Russian government for urgent measures to protect the victims. More than a month has passed, but despite the data from the associations confirming the increase in cases of family violence in the last period, nothing has been done to protect victims, which even come sanctioned for violation of quarantine when they report to the police station to file a complaint, he told a activist Alena Popova, founder of the mutual aid network between women “He smells you” (“You are not alone”).

The violence has not only increased (tripled according to the data of “Ti ne odna”), but has become more heinous, says Popova, and the victims have to use coded messages for help, because the attacker is with them 24 hours a day. According to experts, the decriminalization of domestic violence has spread the sense ofimpunity, even more so because most of the time, as the founder of “Ti odna” explains, the husband who beats his wife for the first time is not subjected toadministrative arrest, but to one fine like that for no parking. The 2017 measure, known as “The law on spanking”, has turned the beatings in the family into a simple one administrative offense, while before they were a criminal offense.

Also because of the ultra-fundamentalist campaign, led by the Spanish ultra-conservative site CitizenGo, which in its Russian version is financed by the Orthodox oligarch Konstanin MalofeevAccording to Alena Popova, the draft law on the prevention of family violence that was under consideration by the Senate in 2019 has undergone changes that have emptied it of all meaning. Popova is the co-author of the version of the project that she calls “ideal”, while the one that published the Upper House in November last year is, according to the activist, “a mutilated version”: in this text, the same definition of family violence speaks of an act that does not contain the type of administrative offense or crime, while the objective of the law becomes “Preservation of the family”. Discussion of the bill will resume after the end of the pandemic, the Senate president recently announced Valentina Matvienko.

The verdict of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), where a “Pilot case” which unites the appeals against the Russian Federation of four victims of domestic violence. As he explained to the newspaper Kommersant the lawyer Mari Davtjan, which defends the victims of family violence, the Strasbourg Court should not only rule on compensation to victims, but also to force Russia to adopt a domestic violence law.

One of the victims of the “pilot case” is Margarita Gracheva, the girl whose case had a strong media echo in Russia and brought the problem of domestic violence to the fore. Margarita lives with a bionic arm because in 2017 her husband, from whom she wanted to divorce, took her to a wood and severed her hands with an ax. It happened three days after the police filed the girl’s complaint.

Another case of domestic violence that shook Russian society and unleashed a vast campaign to defend the victims is that of Khachaturjan sisters, happened in the Armenian diaspora, known for its patriarchal customs. In July 2018 Kristina, Angelina and Maria, who at the time of the events were 19, 18 and 17 years old, are stabbed father after years of enslavement and violence of all kinds, including sexual violence, as investigators have confirmed. The sisters have been accused of premeditated group murder. But later the deputy attorney general asked to change the charge to self-defense. However, the Russian Investigation Committee rejected this request a week ago.

To demonstrate that Russian society is reviewing the old preconceptions about violence against women was the recent scandal around the sentences of the TV presenter, blogger and singer Regina Todorenko. He said in an interview on YouTube that the victims themselves could be guilty of domestic violence. Following a barrage of criticism, the Russian edition of the magazine Glamor he took away the appointment of “Woman of the year”. After understanding the mistake, the presenter filmed a film on violence against women entitled And what did I do to help?, seen to date by more than 4 million people.

“Still eight to nine years ago we took part in various debates on violence against women and we often heard phrases like the one Regina used,” says Alena Popova. “What happened to her shows how the situation has changed,” he continues. “Society is ahead of the state, it is more human and does not accept any kind of violence.”

Russia, together withazerbaijan, remains the only member country of European Council not to have not only ratified, but not even signed the Istanbul Convention on the prevention and fight against violence against women and domestic violence.

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