Russian move to decriminalize domestic violence 'extremely misguided,' advocate says
Rights advocates are calling on Russian lawmakers to reject an "extremely misguided" law that, if passed, would decriminalize domestic violence.
If this bill is passed into law, it would be a huge setback for efforts to eradicate domestic violence in Russia.- Yulia Gorbunova , Human Rights Watch
The proposed law would change domestic violence from a criminal offence to an administrative one, reducing the maximum penalty to a fine rather than jail time. According to the Associated Press, the fine would be approximately 30,000 rubles ($500) or a 15-day arrest.
Effectively, this means beatings that don't result in serious injuries like broken bones or concussions would be decriminalized. The law would apply both to violence between spouses as well as the use of physical force against children.
According to official government statistics, 40 per cent of all violent crimes in Russia are committed within the family.
The bill passed its first reading in the Duma, the Russian lower house of parliament, by a margin of 386 votes to one. The next reading is scheduled for Wednesday.
The legislation was proposed by ultra-conservative Duma member Yelena Mizulina, who was also behind Russia's controversial 2013 law banning gay "propaganda."
According to statements translated by Human Rights Watch, Mizulina has said "a man beating his wife is less offensive than when a woman humiliates a man," and that parents should be allowed to hit their children without fear of legal reprisals.
But Gorbunova accused the bill's supporters of using "rhetoric of traditional family values to basically green-light beatings and abuse."
For more on this story, listen to our full interview with Yulia Gorbunova.