Speed Reads

This is terrible

Bill in Russia aims to decriminalize domestic violence

In Russia, a bill introduced by a controversial lawmaker is being advanced that would decriminalize domestic violence.

A recent poll found that nearly 20 percent of Russians think it's acceptable to hit a spouse or a child, The Associated Press reports. Battery is a criminal offense in Russia, but the bill would remove criminal liability for assaults against relatives that do not cause severe injuries. Last summer, the Supreme Court ruled to decriminalize battery that does not inflict bodily harm, but retain criminal charges for anyone accused of battery against a family member. Conservative activists said this wasn't right, because it meant a parent spanking their child would receive a heftier punishment than a non-parent hitting the child. The woman who introduced the bill is ultra-conservative lawmaker Yelena Mizulina, who also authored a law banning "gay propaganda."

This bill "is not going to improve the situation to say the least," Irina Matvienko, who runs the Anna Center Foundation hotline, told AP. "Domestic violence is a system which makes it difficult for a woman to seek help. It's not a traditional value. It's a crime." The foundation runs the only domestic violence hotline in Russia, and in 2016 received more than 5,000 calls during office hours. In 2013, more than 9,000 women were reported to have been killed in domestic violence incidents, and many more being abused are too afraid to come forward, activist Alyona Popova said. "Society is judgmental," she said. "It goes like this: You're a bad woman if you allow this to happen to you, or you're airing dirty laundry and you're to blame, or it's he beats you [and] it means he loves you. And a lot of people don't want to go public about it."