Support independent journalism in Central & Eastern Europe.
Donate to TOL!

× Learn more
No, thanks Photo: Abbas Atilay
back  |  printBookmark and Share

Domestic Violence Victim Wins Case Against Russia at UN

Number of domestic violence complaints in Russia skyrocketed since decriminalization law passed in 2017. 15 April 2019

The UN ruled against Russia in the first domestic abuse case involving a victim from the country, according to The Moscow Times. The country violated the rights of a Chechen domestic abuse victim, whose husband was cleared by a local court of attempted murder, ruling instead that she had “provoked” him into attacking her with an axe.


The UN Committee for the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) ruled against the country for “failing to uphold her rights as a victim of domestic violence and by directly perpetuating sex-based discrimination and stereotypes in its handling of her case.” CEDAW ordered “adequate financial compensation,” and urged for a review of Russia laws concerning gender-based violence.


In February 2017, Russia decriminalized some forms of domestic violence by reducing the penalties for first offenders. Around that time, some estimates suggested that every year 14,000 women in Russia died from injuries inflicted by their husbands or partners.


Under the new legislative provisions, first-time offenders in cases of violence against a spouse or child that results in bruising or bleeding but not broken bones are to be jailed for up to 15 days, or be fined up to 30,000 rubles ($500) if the incident doesn’t happen more than once a year. In the past, the maximum jail sentence for these offences was a two-year term, according to The Guardian.


Although official statistics released in July 2018 showed a halving of reported domestic violence cases since the new law came into effect – from 36,037 in 2017, compared with 65,543 in 2016 – the story behind the numbers paints a different picture, of women being wary of asking for help.


Marina Pisklakova-Parker – head of the Anna Centre, a network of groups helping domestic abuse victims – told The Guardian “state statistics reflect only criminal cases where the state could respond according to the existing system of legislation ... The amendment offers domestic abusers this easy out, and so the decriminalization has proven to be very dangerous to the safety of thousands of Russian women suffering from men’s domestic violence.”


On the other hand, a feminist activist and blogger was charged with inciting hatred toward men and faced a maximum sentence of five years in prison, Foreign Policy wrote last November. Lyubov Kalugina became the subject of an official investigation after an anonymous complaint that her memes, including one showing a woman holding a frying pan with the words “Beat up a brute, save Russia!” beneath, insulted the plaintiff as a male.


Last December, Russia's Human Rights ombudswoman, Tatyana Moskalkova, admitted that the decriminalization law was “a mistake.”


"Today, a person who is in the family space is not protected from family members who do harm unto them without it being considered a crime,” Moskalkova said, according to The Moscow Times, citing Russian media.



  • According to, a campaign for the adoption of a domestic violence law, 38 percent of Russian women have been exposed to verbal domestic violence at some point in their lives and 20 percent of Russian women have faced physical abuse, but only 10 percent of victims appeal to the police.


  • For Russians living abroad, domestic violence charges could prove a lot more costly than at home. The National Hockey League (NHL) suspended defenseman Slava Voynov on Tuesday for the 2019-2020 season and 2020 playoffs for “unacceptable off-ice conduct” after being arrested and accused of domestic abuse of his wife, according to AP. Voynov was first suspended indefinitely in October 2014, returned to Russia where he continued to play ice hockey professionally, then moved back to the United States and was applying to be reinstated by the NHL.
Compiled by Ioana Caloianu
back  |  printBookmark and Share



#PragueMediaPoint Conference for journalists, media professionals, and scholars

‚ÄčThe 2019 edition of Prague Media Point will highlight these types of inspiring examples and more. We will offer a mix of scholarly presentations, including keynote addresses; sessions with innovators explaining their solutions; and networking opportunities to promote the exchange of know-how. As in years past, the conference will have a special regional focus on Central and Eastern Europe, though we look forward to covering cases and trends from other parts of the world.



Moldovan diaries

The Moldovan Diaries is a multimedia, interactive examination of the country's ethnic, religious, social and political identities by Paolo Paterlini and Cesare De Giglio.

This innovative approach to story telling gives voice to ordinary people and takes the reader on the virtual trip across Moldovan rural and urban landscapes. 

It is a unique and intimate map of the nation.


© Transitions Online 2019. All rights reserved. ISSN 1214-1615
Published by Transitions o.s., Baranova 33, 130 00 Prague 3, Czech Republic.