Sunday, April 17, 2016

Russian Federation: DOMESTIC VIOLENCE 1/7



DOMESTIC VIOLENCE*

According to CEDAW, the Russian Federation is obliged to take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women by any person, organization or enterprise (article 2 (e)) and to take all appropriate measures, including legislation, to modify or abolish existing laws, regulations, customs and practices which constitute discrimination against women (article 2 (f)).

The Convention also requires that the state modify the social and cultural patterns of conduct of men and women, with a view to achieving the elimination of prejudices and customary and all other practices which are based on the idea of the inferiority or the superiority of either of the sexes or on stereotyped roles for men and women (article 5 (a)).

Article 16 (1) of the Convention obliges the states to take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women in all matters relating to marriage and family relations.

Scale of the problem

Statistical data on crimes of domestic violence against women is fragmental and difficult to obtain. At the same time according to the statistics of the Ministry of Internal Affaires women were 74% among of all victims of domestic violence in 2013, and in 91% of cases violence was committed by a husband.

Lack of knowledge and understanding of women’s human rights and system of response contributes to impunity for crimes committed against women. According to ANNA statistics (2014), 72% of women that turned to the National help line for women suffering from domestic violence never sought help from the police. Of those women who did 80% were unsatisfied with police response.  

System of response

                   Despite the work done to combat violence against women in Russia over the last 20 years, a systemic approach at government level does not exist. We are deeply concerned by the high level of violence against women in families, by the number of murdered women and by the latency of sexual violence. 

Agencies involved in the response to domestic violence in Russia are police, social services, judges and healthcare settings.

                   Social services are currently the main entry point for survivors of domestic violence into the state response system. According to the data of the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection, in 2013 there were 1,333 social services providing assistance to women in a “difficult life situation”. Domestic violence is included in this category. However, the concept of a "social services" establishment includes not only specialized crisis centres and social shelters, but rather a wide range of agencies: social assistance centres for family and children; centres for psychological and pedagogical assistance to the population; centres for emergency telephone psychological assistance; social rehabilitation centres for juveniles, etc. Thus, there are a vast variety of social problems addressed through these agencies where services for women victims of violence are only a small part. Indeed only 42 are shelters that offer specialized assistance to women who are victims of domestic violence. Some of these combine the extension of assistance to victims of domestic violence with helping other categories of women like underage mothers. Another obstacle in access to services is that in order to get a place at a shelter women have to be residents of that region.

Main obstacles in decreasing violence

Lack of legal protection
Another important agency in the state system of response to domestic violence cases is police. However, in Russia under the existing legislation it is difficult to prosecute cases of domestic violence (even physical violence, which has ensuing visible evidence).
Currently domestic violence is not recognized as a separate offence by the Russian Criminal Code. The only applicable criminal provisions are those relating to bodily injuries or other crimes.  Thus, acts of violence against women in the family, like any violent crime against a person, are punishable under Part VII of the Russian Criminal Code (crimes against the person):
            - Article 112 (intentional causing of average gravity harm to health);
            - Article 115 (intentional causing of minor harm to health);
            - Article 116 (beating);
            - Article 119 (threat of homicide or of causing grave harm to health)

None of the above-mentioned articles takes into consideration the relationship between a perpetrator and a victim.

Repeated acts of violence against the same person are not specifically criminalized under Russian law. Article 18 of the Russian Criminal Code excludes "records of convictions for intentional crimes of small gravity" or of conditional sentences to be taken into account when considering recidivism of crimes. Only Article 117 of the Russian Criminal Code (torture, the causing of physical or mental suffering by means of the systematic infliction of beatings or other forcible actions) takes into consideration the following aggravating circumstances: the victim is a minor, apparently helpless "or materially or otherwise dependent on the guilty person". However, this article is rarely invoked. The justice system considers violence committed in a public place against a stranger, to be a much greater social danger than the same actions committed within a family against relatives.

Thus, domestic violence is not considered to be a crime against society, but continues to be treated as a private family matter.

The main obstacle to obtaining justice for victims is that most cases of domestic violence are brought as private prosecutions.



This report is prepared by a group of experts under leadership of “ANNA” Centre for the Prevention of Violence. The Report covers areas of concern in regards to women’s rights especially violence against women with assessment of the state system of tackling violent incidents against women, hence the emphasis in the report on the analysis of the current law and practice.
The monitoring was conducted in Russia in 2010—2015. The monitoring results do not claim to be comprehensive; however, they do provide a general assessment of the situation, identify key problems and trends, evaluate the steps taken to resolve them and analyse existing obstacles. The list of violent incidents contained in the report is neither exhaustive nor representative; however it is a vivid illustration of the nature and scope of violence committed against women in Russia.


 Drawing by Violeta Doval Henández

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