Pulse.ng logo
Go

In Russia MPs back reducing punishment for domestic violence

The bill's authors say the new measure removes a legal anomaly and will reduce domestic violence by giving first-time abusers a chance to reform.

  • Published:
Russian MP agree on amendstments that reduce the penalty for violence against family members, including spouses and children, as long as it is a first offence and does not cause serious injury play

Russian MP agree on amendstments that reduce the penalty for violence against family members, including spouses and children, as long as it is a first offence and does not cause serious injury

(AFP/File)

Russian MPs on Wednesday backed a controversial bill reducing the punishment for some forms of domestic violence in a crucial second reading, despite protests from rights activists.

The amendments reduce the penalty for violence against family members -- including spouses and children -- as long as it is a first offence and does not cause serious injury, making it punishable by a fine of up to 30,000 rubles ($506, 470 euros).

Currently violence against a family member that does not cause serious physical injury is defined as battery, punishable by up to two years in jail.

Amnesty International last week appealed to Russia's parliament not to pass the bill, condemning it as a "sickening attempt to trivialise domestic violence."

The bill now only needs to get through a third technical reading expected Friday before it goes to the upper house and then to President Vladimir Putin for a final signature.

The bill's authors say the new measure removes a legal anomaly and will reduce domestic violence by giving first-time abusers a chance to reform.

Conservative backers of the bill have nicknamed this the "law on slaps," complaining domestic violence is punished too harshly.

"If you slap your naughty child, you risk up to two years in jail. If your neighbour does the same, it would end with a fine," one of the bill's authors, Senator Yelena Mizulina, wrote on her site on Wednesday.

She complained the current law allows a criminal case to be opened on evidence from "a child in a huff against their parents."

'Monsters should go to jail'

But lawyer Maxim Krupsky told RBK news site that "decriminalisation could untie the hands of people who potentially could commit domestic violence."

Moscow city authorities this week refused permission for a rally organised by opponents of the bill with the slogan "Stop violence in the family, monsters should go to jail".

One of its organisers, Alexandra Voskresenskaya, said Wednesday that "the authorities want to take three steps back, by entirely decriminalising violence and depriving victims of their only mechanism of defence."

The 21-year-old student told AFP she has applied to hold another protest rally in Moscow on February 4 and is waiting to hear back from the authorities.

Parliament on Wednesday threw out Communist Party proposals to exclude attacks on pregnant women and children from the decriminalisation.

"Lawmakers have decided to vote for this bill because they are influenced by the Church and the government which actively promotes traditional family values," said Voskresenskaya.

"The consequences are clear: the situation for Russian women is getting worse, and little as they have felt protected before, now they won't even have that."

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov gave the bill apparent backing, telling journalists that "blowing out of proportion and calling for (criminal) responsibility for various manifestations of family relations would hardly be effective."

In Russia's still deeply patriarchal society, there is little public discussion of domestic violence and a popular saying goes: "If he beats you, it means he loves you."

A poll by state agency VTsIOM in January found 19 percent of Russians thought violence against partners or children could be acceptable in some circumstances.

According to the state statistics agency, in 2015 there were 49,579 crimes involving violence in the family, of those 35,899 involving violence against a woman.

Do you ever witness news or have a story that should be featured on Pulse Nigeria?
Submit your stories, pictures and videos to us now via WhatsApp: +2349055172167, Social Media @pulsenigeria247: #PulseEyewitness & DM or Email: eyewitness@pulse.ng. More information here.