Survey finds 89% of Russians in favour of law banning domestic violence — Novaya Gazeta Europe
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Survey finds 89% of Russians in favour of law banning domestic violence

A woman holds up a banner reading “Domestic violence is a social problem” at an International Women’s Day March in St. Petersburg, 8 March 2020. Photo: EPA-EFE/ANATOLY MALTSEV

A woman holds up a banner reading “Domestic violence is a social problem” at an International Women’s Day March in St. Petersburg, 8 March 2020. Photo: EPA-EFE/ANATOLY MALTSEV

Legislation outlawing domestic violence in Russia would have the backing of 89% of Russians, according to a survey carried out jointly by polling agency Russian Field and the liberal New People party, state-affiliated news outlet RBC reported on Thursday.

The survey found that 95% of women and 83% of men would support the passage of a domestic violence bill. Age, education and economic status were barely a factor in how people answered survey questions, RBC said.

While Russia has never had a separate domestic violence law, some forms of domestic battery were included in the Criminal Code until 2017, when Vladimir Putin signed a law making the first count of domestic battery an administrative offence instead of a criminal one.

The most recent attempt to pass a domestic violence bill was in 2019, when a group of activists launched a campaign calling for the criminalisation of domestic battery. The draft version of the bill was even published on the website of Russia’s upper house, the Federation Council, albeit in a considerably revised form, which led activists to call it “toothless”. Neither version of the bill was ultimately considered by the Duma, which activists suggested was due to pressure from the Russian Orthodox Church and radical conservative groups.

The New People party introduced a bill on stalking in October, one provision of which would introduce restraining orders for stalkers. The bill is still being considered by the Duma committees, but its future does not look promising after the Duma Committee on Legislation recommended scrapping it last month.

On Thursday, a group of deputies from the ultranationalist Liberal Democratic Party of Russia, sent a package of bills aimed at tackling domestic violence to the government and the Supreme Court for comment — a stage preceding the bill being submitted to the Duma.

State-affiliated newspaper Kommersant said the bill defined physical, sexual, psychological and economic violence, but legal experts criticised the authors for failing to include battery in the definition of physical violence or introduce protective measures for victims of stalking.

Algoritm Sveta, a Russian project that monitors domestic violence statistics, estimates that 70% of Russian women murdered in 2020 and 2021 died at the hands of their partners or relatives. Under existing laws, battery of a family member only qualifies as a crime if it is a repeat offence, and responsibility for gathering evidence, confronting the abuser and presenting the case in court falls to the victim.

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