In January, a march took place global-wide protesting in favor of the rights of women. Four days later, a bill decriminalizing domestic violence was passed in Russia.

According to CNN reports, more than 85% Russian legislators approved the bill. Most of whom see the bill as part of President Vladimir Putin’s drive to appease conservatives, who are pushing for “traditional family values”.

The bill’s sponsors, including conservative senator Yelena Mizulina, said the proposed law would simply bring family law into line with reforms passed last summer. These reforms loosened punishment for other minor assaults.

Unfortunately, the bill passed after its third reading, and was signed off by President Putin.

The new controversial law decriminalizes domestic violence as long as it does not happen more than once a year.

The law makes the first violent offense against “close persons,” such as relatives or children, an administrative offense, punishable by a 30,000 ruble fine ($500) or arrest for 15 days.

The previous maximum penalty was prison for up to two years.

How is this a thread to human rights?

Domestic violence not only goes against right of women and children, but is also a crime against humanity.

Women and children are major victims of domestic violence, but not the only victims. Domestic violence against the elderly and men are also reported, although in a much smaller percentage. 

According to comparative data, Russia has a very high rate of domestic violence when compared to other European countries.

The traditional culture of Russia considers domestic violence more of a “family issue” rather than a violation of human rights. Within that culture, society doesn’t provide help to victims of domestic violence. Many victims won’t even tell their experience to other people because of the fear of destroying their family.

In Russia, roughly 14,000 women are killed each year by their partners, with only three-quarters of them trying to leave before they were murdered, according to a UN report from 2007.

A survey from the Russian Public Opinion Research Center in January showed 19% of respondents said they believed it was sometimes acceptable for a husband to beat his wife or children.

Laws against domestic violence are the only way to protect the victims from persecutions. If the sentence for domestic violence crimes goes down, how many more victims will there be?

Women’s rights groups have vocally opposed the bill, saying that decriminalizing assaults will only encourage more violence in a country where the rate of assaults in homes is already high.

“Passage of this law would be a huge step backward for Russia, where victims of domestic violence already face enormous obstacles to getting help or justice,” said Human Rights Watch Russia researcher, Yulia Gorbunova.

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