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Russia Moves to Soften Domestic Violence Law

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The Russian parliament have overwhelmingly approved to decriminalise some forms of domestic violence that does not cause serious physical harm.

On Wednesday, Members of the State Duma passed an amendment that treats a first conviction for domestic battery as an administrative offence, with offenders facing a fine, community service or 15 days in prison.

368 lawmakers voted in favour of the bill, with one abstention.

The controversial amendment passed to the Russian criminal code in its second reading, which assures the bill will go to Vladimir V. Putin for his signature before becoming law.

MP Yelena Mizuline, a highly conservative lawmaker who also wrote a law that banned “gay propaganda”, introduced the bill in July, following a change in the criminal code that made domestic violence a criminal offence.

Mizuline said: “In the traditional Russian family culture, relations between ‘fathers and sons’ are built upon the authority of parents’ power, mutual love and personal indispensability as the basis for children’s upbringing.”

Dubbed the “slapping law” by some Russian media outlets, the bill has sparked fury in the country, with opponents calling it a step back to medieval times and that it would mean the “exoneration of tyrants in the home”.

Official data on domestic violence in Russia is limited, but state-run news agency RIA Novosti has reported that 40% of serious crimes are committed in the family, with 12,000 women dying each year as a result of domestic violence – one woman every 44 minutes.

In the UK, by comparison, domestic violence accounts for 16% of all violent crime, and leads to, on average, two women being murdered each week and 30 men per year.


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