Activist Alena Popova has launched a change.org petition in Russia, demanding that the Duma pass a new law against domestic violence. The petition, which already has more than 174,000 signatures is an urgent one, coming soon after the Duma recently passed a bill on domestic violence in its first reading — one that considers assault an administrative rather than criminal offence if it does not seriously injure the person.
In this bill, family violence that doesn’t result in medical treatment or sick leave for the victim is not criminal. Apart from completely ignoring the severe mental health effects of domestic violence, the bill removes “battery within families” from Russia’s Criminal Code — a criminal charge can only be brought against offenders if the beating took place more than once a year. If, like us, you thought it just wasn’t possible for such a bill to get passed at least without some opposition, of the 370 senators in present, 368 of them supported the bill.
The bill was introduced by Yelena Mizulina, a senator in the Federation Council, Russia’s upper chamber of Parliament. “You don’t want people to be imprisoned for two years and labelled a criminal for the rest of their lives for a slap,” she had said back in August 2016, when she had first introduced the bill in Parliament. She went on to argue that traditional power dynamics of families should be reflected in the law — and told the Moscow Times that the law must not, “contradict the system of social values that society holds on to.” Mizulina had previously campaigned for anti-LGBTQ legislature against “gay propaganda”. But it has been reported that the bill was not a priority until Vladimir Putin intervened.
Apart from starting the change.org petition, Popova also condemned the bill on a Facebook post, arguing that the bill will mean that, “an offender will now beat [his relatives] and pay a small fine.”