This could be part of a rising conservative tide in the world, seeking to roll back the clock on women’s rights. Many Russian women were not surprised by the new law.
“I don`t think this new law will make the situation dramatically worse in Russia – the situation of victims is so bad already, this would be difficult.” Said Psychotherapist Natalia Tumashkova.
40% of violent crime in Russia already happens in family environments, and over 9,000 women died because of domestic violence incidents in 2013. Russian government statistics, meanwhile, suggest that 36,000 women are beaten by their partners every day.
Under the new law, beating a spouse or child is no longer a criminal offense if it only happens once a year and doesn’t hospitalize them. Punishment is just a fine or 15 days in prison.
Leaving victims of domestic violence with no other support or protection sends a big message. And the worry now is that this message will result in legitimation. Police are currently responding to 350 incidents of domestic violence daily, compared to 150 a day before the law changed.
Russia isn’t alone in conservative opposition to legislation against domestic violence. Armenia, for example, had its own bill – aimed at strengthening protection and prevention. But opponents attacked it as a liberal European attempt at “shattering the traditional roots of our families”. And the idea in both Russia and Armenia appears to be that liberal social movements are foreign to their Eurasian identity.
According to The Independent, a popular Russian newspaper recently published an article suggesting that survivors could be proud of being beaten because it would make them “more likely to give birth to boys”.
Russian women have been protesting the new law. But Western conservatives – themselves rolling back women’s rights – have been quiet on the matter.
A fight-back appears to have begun worldwide. And the rights of vulnerable citizens are what’s at stake.