Trump's best friend and Russian President Vladamir Putin has now approved the "slapping law"-- a bill to decriminalize family violence that does not cause extreme physical harm to the victim. The law, which passed through Russia's lower house of parliament 368 votes to 2 last month, officially downgrades an abuser's first charge of domestic violence from a criminal to an administrative offense, carrying (at most) a $507 fine, a 15-day arrest, or 120 community services hours. What's more, the first offense rolls over each year- so long as violence is reported less than once per year, perpetrators will never be charged with a criminal offense.
Domestic violence is dangerously normalized in Russia. One of Russia's most widely-read tabloids, the Komsomolskaya Pravda, recently published a column telling women they should be proud of their bruises, alongside-- I kid you not-- a stock photo of a man aggressively screaming into his phone.
According to Metro UK, it reads:
"For years, women who have been smacked around by their husbands have found solace in the rather hypocritical proverb, “If he beats you, it means he loves you!” However, a new scientific study is giving women with irascible husbands new grounds to be proud of their bruises, insofar as women who are beaten, biologists confirm, have a valuable advantage – they’re more likely to give birth to boys!"
The United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women has previously stressed the inadequacy of Russian law in responding to domestic violence. Russia lacks adequate protection orders and rehabilitation programs, according to UN research, and domestic violence goes hugely underreported in Russia according to Human Rights Watch. And now? Now it's not even a crime. With little social stigma to inhibit offenders and few programs to assist victims, the deterrent of punishment should be an important tool-- but now its power has been lessened considerably.
For ultra-conservative Russian lawmakers, changes such as this are all about preserving traditional family values. The bill was written by senator Yelena Mizulina, who was previously responsible for the "gay propaganda law," which criminalized exposing minors to representations of non-traditional relationships. The law should not "contradict the system of social values that society holds on to,” Mizulina has been quoted as saying.
A quick refresher:
Traditional family values ≠ 12,000 women dying annually as a result of domestic violence
Love ≠ violence.
Image via Vladamir Putin's personal website album (yes, this exists)
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