The law decriminalising domestic violence must be turned down!
The State Duma passed in the first reading the Law on decriminalization of domestic violence. There is no doubt that this dangerous law will be adopted. This means that the person beating his family members resulting in light injuries will not be charged with a criminal offense, but only administrative proceedings will be instituted against him.
We have a catastrophic situation with domestic violence, even according to official statistics (reflecting far from all cases) dozens of thousands of women, children and elderly persons become victims of domestic violence every year. In the Russian Federation 40 per cent of all grave violent crimes are committed within the family. The weakest and the most vulnerable family members – women, children, the disabled and the elderly – largely suffer from domestic violence. Dozens of thousands of victims die every year.
The present administrative, criminal and criminal-procedural legislation is inefficient. Legal proceedings are taken only at the law-suit of the injured party in court in accordance with the procedure of private (not public) prosecution. Neither the police nor the prosecutor’s office participate in the examination of such cases. The injured party must independently gather all the evidence and present them to the court that it is virtually impossible for the victim in the situation of domestic violence. Frequently the victim and the abuser have to live together (in one flat or house), and it is unsafe for the victim to file a law-suit on violence, and especially to collect evidence. In addition, collection of evidence is connected with serious procedural difficulties for the victim. In contrast with the defendant, a private person filing a law-suit does not get a lawyer paid by the state, and not everyone can afford paying for the lawyer. In addition, cases of private prosecution are terminated in connection with the reconciliation of the parties, and that’s also where is a danger that the victim will be pressed by the assaulter.
Because of this, many victims choose either not to apply to court at all, or after applying to court they abandon further struggle.
Often the assaulters manage to avoid punishment for repeated crimes. Family and domestic crime has been virtually legalized at present. Police have neglected domestic violence cases earlier, but now they will have grounds for such negligence. Adoption of laws in the spirit of “patriarchal despotism” is a trend, violence becomes almost a social norm under the slogan “they are asking for trouble” and ” beating your wife is a sign of love”.
The weaker family members have no one to offer protection to them. Even in Moscow, there are just a few call-centres a victim can call, a few crisis centers, where a victim can escape; and there are only a few such centres across the country. There are no protective mechanisms for victims (security orders, psychological and legal assistance, shelter networks, rehabilitation centers, etc.). There are no rehabilitation programmes for both victims and assaulters.
World practice in the fight against domestic violence has proven that a special law on the prevention of domestic violence is more effective than introducing some articles into the criminal, civil and administrative laws. Similar laws have been effective in many countries of Western and Eastern Europe and the CIS for several years already. The experience of Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Moldova, Kyrgyzstan, the Czech Republic, Lithuania and other countries demonstrates that cases of domestic violence drop by 20-40 per cent after the adoption of such laws.
We demand to abandon the adoption of the Law on decriminalisation of beatings in the family and adopt a special Law on the responsibility for family violence, as well as create an efficient state mechanism for prevention of domestic violence, and assistance and rehabilitation of victims.
Chair of the Gender Faction, YABLOKO
Posted: January 24th, 2017 under Gender Faction.