“The solution to the problem of domestic violence now lies with civil society institutions” • Russia today


Posting in CHAT: Russia

About the law against domestic violence. Unfortunately, we have nothing to say to women about this. The last serious discussions and actions aimed at introducing a bill on the prevention of domestic violence (as its latest version was called) took place in the fall of 2019, that is, four years ago. We immediately designed the project so that it could be applied in situations of physical, psychological, economic and sexual violence. At the end of November 2019, the concept of the bill was posted on the official website of the Federation Council for public discussion; this version needed serious revision: the text did not provide for protective measures that need to be applied in internal affairs situations. violence However, even the heavily amended version of the bill, which was not agreed upon with human rights activists, was never submitted to the State Duma. The law was not returned even when the pandemic began in Russia and the level of domestic violence began to rise. We have said and continue to say that women need both additional legal protection measures and social support measures: shelters in the regions, the availability of qualified psychological assistance, intolerance to violence in society and the fight against gender stereotypes. Russia has a very high rate of domestic/partner violence. Without the law, we are losing time, lives and health of our women and children. How to live when violence around you is only multiplying Our research showed that over the two coronavirus years in Russia, the proportion of women who died in situations of domestic and partner violence increased significantly compared to previous years: in 2020 it was 70.9%, in 2021 year – 71.7%. Rates of intimate partner violence have increased significantly in 2020 and 2021. Of the total deaths due to domestic violence, 92.5% and 92.8%, respectively, were killed by partners, the rest by relatives. Currently, the media pays great attention to stories of brutal violence and murder committed by men returning from the Northern Military District. These tragic stories may make violence against girls and women more visible to some, but we work every day with cases that don’t make it to the media, some of which result in serious injury or murder. Taking into account international experience, we understand that the SVO has touched upon the problem of domestic violence, but we will be able to talk about this and analyze the data only after everything is over. Even after a year or two. In November, 85 women turned to us for help, all requests were related to various types of violence. Many or few? We are one of several non-profit organizations that deal with this problem, and we must take into account that, as a rule, those women who seek legal help are those who have the psychological ability to fight for themselves. On the international scientific agenda, domestic violence has been considered a violation of human rights for several decades. Firstly, at the state level, this problem must cease to be perceived as a “private matter.” Now in our country, the solution to this problem lies primarily with the institutions of civil society, and the state has withdrawn itself from solving it. But it should be the other way around – the state takes the necessary measures to ensure equal rights and directs efforts to overcome the discrimination that women are subjected to, and civil society helps to the best of its ability. Photo: Crisis Center for Women No matter how professional lawyers, psychologists and human rights activists we have, sometimes they are simply powerless to stop, for example, the forced detention of girls from the North Caucasus at home or the persecution of a stalker, for whose threats the police do not respond in any way. In recent years, many surveys have been conducted on public attitudes towards domestic violence, and the majority of people responded that they consider this problem to be important and requiring solutions and attention from the authorities. A significant part of society already understands that violence is not the norm. This is a big step forward. The issue of prevention should be addressed primarily to the police, so that in the event of the first signals they can quickly respond and prevent a tragedy. Now there are groups that work with aggressors, this is important work, but it’s difficult for me to say how much it affects the reduction of violence in general. No country has yet completely eradicated domestic violence, but the sooner we begin to take comprehensive action, the more women we will lose. Why the “special order” is not suitable for domestic violence cases The special order of adjudication is a legal institution in criminal cases that allows for faster verdicts in cases of minor and medium importance. Thus, in case of agreement with the prosecution and in the absence of objections from the victim, the judge does not study and evaluate the evidence collected in the criminal case, and also does not conduct an inspection as such. In turn, the punishment for the accused cannot exceed two-thirds of the maximum term or the amount of the most severe type of punishment provided for the crime committed. The verdicts in such cases contain very little information about the details of what happened. The difficulty is that domestic violence is often not perceived by law enforcement agencies as a serious problem and as a circumstance that can affect qualifications. In the study, we noticed that in general cases where women use violence against men, 79% of women said they defended themselves. If we simultaneously consider cases accepted in general and special order, then this share will decrease threefold – to 28%. Moreover, for men this difference is not so important. Thus, the police authorities, when considering cases, specifically ignore the previous situation of violence against the accused women, and this is important for qualification. If a woman defended herself, realizing that there was a real threat to her life, this is not a crime. Of course, the abolition of the special order for crimes involving grievous bodily harm in 2020 creates the conditions for making visible the previous situation of violence against the accused. “It’s more convenient for the system not to understand the circumstances in which a woman defends herself.” Among the cases of our center there are stories where a woman defended herself, and the situation of the necessary defense was proven in court, and an incident. was reclassified. But it is more convenient for the system not to understand the circumstances in which a woman defends herself. For example, a woman who had already been convicted of murder contacted us; she was trying to get out on parole. When we got acquainted with the case materials, we were shocked by the number of violations in her case. Her husband beat and strangled her. In self-defense, she stabbed him and then tried to provide first aid. At the time of the investigation, the woman was in serious psychological and physical condition. A forensic medical examination found that she had a fractured jaw, multiple abrasions and hematomas on her body, an eye hematoma, and damage to her teeth. The doctors who examined her stated that the woman needed surgery, but issued a certificate stating that she could be kept in a temporary detention center. From the beginning of the preliminary investigation, she was provided with an appointed lawyer; Later in the appeal she will point out that the lawyer worked for the prosecution. Despite the injuries caused by her ex-husband and the investigation into the harm caused to her health, the investigator refused to recognize the woman as a victim. She was also denied parole. As for the research, the data we received correlates with the results of a study by Mediazona (recognized by the Ministry of Justice as a foreign agent) and Novaya Gazeta (recognized by the Ministry of Justice as a foreign agent), published in 2019. studied the sentences of women convicted of murder, and in 79% of cases the defendants explained that they were defending themselves. If you look at the number of women convicted under Art. 111 (“Intentional infliction of grievous bodily harm”), we will notice an increase since 2017, when the first beatings committed against loved ones were decriminalized and became administrative offenses. It can be assumed that there is a connection between the increase in the number of convicted women and the decriminalization of beatings. Domestic violence occurs systematically and can become increasingly dangerous over time. In the absence of effective tools to prevent and respond to domestic violence, women are forced to defend themselves. Recorded by Alexandra Zakhvatkina The material was prepared according to the NPO-pro project. The project is being implemented by the Social Information Agency with the support of the Vladimir Potanin Charitable Foundation.

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