There’s an old proverb in Russia that translates to: ‘If he beats you, it means he loves you.’ The country's lawmakers must have kept that in mind when they passed a bill that decriminalises domestic violence in the lower parliament house, Duma.
The bill exempts people who have not caused any ‘serious harm’ to the victim, ie. any injury that doesn’t require hospital treatments or sick leave from work, from any prosecution. The ‘slapping law’, as it is being called, does state that they will have to face penalty in the form of community service or a fine.
The law very generously also explains that ‘if the offence is committed more than twice in one year, it will be labelled as a criminal offence.’
Not surprisingly, the bill is being backed by the Russian Orthodox Church that believes in total submission to the family patriarch.
Conservative senator Yelena Muzilina, who is sponsoring the bill, says, “In the traditional family culture in Russia, parent-child relationships are built on the authority of the parents’ power. The laws should support that family tradition.” According to her, the existing laws against domestic violence are ‘anti-family’ and a person should not be prosecuted for just a scratch.
It must also be noted that Muzilina authored Russia’s ‘anti-gay propaganda law’ that criminalised the propagation of non-traditional sexual relations.
Women’s rights groups across the country have been outraged at this development, stating that this bill encourages more cases of domestic violence.
A state run news agency in Russia reports that nearly 40% of the crime in Russia is directly related to domestic violence. Over 36,000 women are beaten daily and nearly 12,000 die every year, that’s one woman every 44 minutes.
Activist Alena Popova has started a petition on change.org demanding that the Duma pass a stricter law against domestic violence in Russia. Whether this will change the minds of the lawmakers or not is still to be determined, but in a country that believes that the measure of true love is directly proportionate to the abuse he lays on you, it doesn't look promising.