Meanwhile in Russia: “mild” domestic violence has been decriminalised

Est Reading Time: 3 min

Shadow of Putin over world

One of the many, many side effects of HWMNBN is the extent to which the disproportionate media coverage is taking world attention from other crises, many of which were getting very little attention even before. Dictators are operating with more impunity and people are dying. To push back against this I want to start reaching into stories that would or should be front page news but now aren’t.

There have been THINGS happening in Russia. Well one THING I want to talk about. Some of the links below are to Russian-language websites, provided for reference purposes although you can give Google Translate a go. Specifically Novaya Gazeta is one of the few publications in Russia that are openly and consistently critical of the regime and perform investigative journalism, and so are probably derided as fake news by the 99 billion state publications.

The THING (which has in fact received international coverage, but not enough) is Russia’s decriminalisation of “mild” domestic violence.

Here’s what the order signed into law by Putin apparently says. Physical striking a close relative (spouse, parents, children, siblings, grandparents, grandchildren), if it’s done for the first time and has caused physical pain but no ongoing injury is downgraded from a criminal offence to an administrative offence. All that the perpetrator will be liable to is a fine of up to 30k roubles ($AUD670 or slightly more than the average monthly wage), a 15 day arrest and potentially community service.

The Duma voted 380-3 in favour of the change. Suggestions to exclude pregnant woman from the change were NOT adopted. The rationale given by the senator Helen Mizulina who proposed the bill was that criminal liability for such acts can cause “irreparable harm to familial relations”. This was therefore framed as getting the state out of the family since these cases “aren’t serious”.

According to some polling, [only] 36%(!) of Russian men and 50%(!) of Russian women are against this change while 77%(!) of people consider violence to be completely unacceptable in the home.

In Australia there’s much talk about the epidemic of deaths from domestic violence. Let’s unfortunately put things into perspective about how much worse it is in Russia. According to Destroy the Joint, there were 71 murders from DV in Australia in 2016. This is about 0.29 deaths per 100,000 people. In the USA in 2007 it was 2340 or 0.77 deaths per 100,000 people – 2.7 times more than Australia (this figure includes men who make up 30% of victims). Meanwhile in Russia the figures are contentious but the estimate is between 10,000 and 14,000 murders per year or 6.97-9.76 deaths per 100,000 people. This is between nine and thirteen times more per capita than in Australia.

One strange element to add to the horror is according to even many older Western analyses of DV laws around the world (eg. World Atlas, Guardian), Russia had no anti-DV laws. Maybe they meant adequate?

Either way, fuck everything. I’m not sure what a reasonable international response would be. At the very least every country with proper anti-DV laws should update their travel advisory for people with families to reconsider their visit.