Russia: Brutal Killing Highlights Lack of Domestic Violence Law
Wednesday, January 30, 2013 1:00 PM

The tragic murder of a young Russian woman has brought attention to a problem that has long been discounted and ignored: the lack of a domestic violence law in Russia. According to estimates, between 10,000 and 14,000 Russian women die each year from spousal abuse. Russia has remained behind many of its post-Soviet neighbors on the issue. Mari Davtian, an attorney with the ANNA Center, stated, “Unfortunately, we are one of the last to pass such a law.”

For a number of reasons, women are reluctant to report their husbands for abuse. According to Davtian, "A woman herself has to file a case to the court and prove that she was subjected to a crime. If a woman lives with the person she is taking to court, then she is in danger." To add to this, there are only 40 state shelters for victims of domestic violence across Russia. With limited shelters throughout the vast country, many women feel they have nowhere to go to escape the violence.
The proposed legislation, to be introduced in February, would recognize domestic violence as a crime, empower police and courts to issue restraining orders, and require offenders to undergo counseling. If an effective domestic violence bill passes and is signed into law, advocates say it would mark a breakthrough in the country. There have been various attempts to introduce domestic violence legislation in Russia since the early 1990s, however each attempt has been unsuccessful. The ANNA Center, along with many others, is hopeful that this time will be different.