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Decriminalization of Aggressive Behavior at Home in Russia Not In Line With International Human Rights Obligations

By Ghazal Bhootra      Jul 03, 2020      0 Comments
Decriminalization of Aggressive Behavior at Home in Russia

The Russian State Assembly accompanied by certain conservative Russian Church partly decriminalized domestic violence expressing that it was an intrusion in the family, the hostility of the foreign nations, and even an LGBTQ propaganda, in February 2017. The modification meant that violence against a spouse or children that consequently turns into bruising or bleeding but not broken bones are punishable by 15 days in prison or a fine of 30,000 roubles (£380) if they do not happen more than once a year. Before 2017, these criminal activities resulted in a maximum of two years of a punishment term to be carried out in jail.

A sum of just 36,037 domestic violence instances was reported in 2017, in comparison to the 65,543 in 2016. Furthermore, 25,667 of the 2017 cases involving violence against women were reported, contrasting to the 49,765 cases that were filed the year before.

Because of the lack of importance given to domestic crimes, the statistics are not completely exact, and owing to the decriminalization, reporting of these cases has become less. The executive does not take the offenses into consideration at all. This gives prominence to activists and NGOs in the region. Since the 1990s, the demonstrations for better domestic violence punishment have been going on. In 1993, the first draft was published in the state assembly which was tabled by the radicals. Following that many such drafts came in place, but no action was taken with the right-wing going on to state that it is a “utopian bill”. The state assembly consisted of 90% male members when the draft law was introduced. Only one female member of the Duma (state assembly) talked about the necessity of a specific domestic violence law, with a Russian journalist, but her statements did no favor to the bill. The Duma has refused to accept any bill that has the subject matter of abusive behavior at home even though it has considered various draft laws set prior to this. Enemies of the bill contest that aggressive domestic behavior can be incriminated under physical savagery and dangers and other crimes previously in place. Additionally, the Duma said with finality regarding a 2003 letter to Amnesty International wherein the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that a particular law on abusive behavior at home would never again be introduced stating that the Duma and the "populace would consider a law on savagery in the family as an obstruction with private family matters."

Domestic violence is an issue that has been genuinely undertaken by the United Nations with the rise in aggression against women. Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and the standards in the European Court of Human Rights has been introduced within the past few years. The change in the Criminal Code of Russia is a transgression to these steps. The Secretary-General of the Council of Europe noticed that "lessening battery inside the family from a criminal to an authoritative offense, with more fragile assents for guilty parties, would be an away from of relapse inside the Russian Federation and would strike a hit to worldwide endeavors to annihilate abusive behavior at home." The United Nations General Assembly recognized that aggression at home is an issue with serious implications against human rights. It was also strongly denounced that all forms of domestic violence against women and girls are inhumane and elimination of violence in the family in the 2004 resolution was called for.

This leads to Russia being a major violator of the basic right given to a human to live with respect and dignity since the UN denounces domestic violence. The Russian laws state that only severe instances of aggression should be filed which are only inclusive of extreme bruising and breaking of bones. This gives the Russian citizens a right to violate the modesty of the people of their families. A major part of the society agrees with the amendment stating that these matters are considered to be “internal matters” of the household. A senate of the house even went on to say that the no woman finds it belittling to be hit by her family.

Every woman has the right not to be subjected to torture, or other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment as stated in Article 3 (h)of the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women of the UN. Even though this is being violated by Russian codes of procedure and has also been brought up by the General Assembly in many instances, but given the pre-existing political derivatives, no other actions have been taken.

In the past few years, activism in Russia has grown vigorously and the process of a new legislative bill has grown immensely. “Parliament should do the right thing and bring the existing draft in line with international standards so that domestic violence survivors have a place to turn for the protection and services they need, and perpetrators are held to account,” said Yulia Gorbunova, Researcher at Human Rights Watch.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), together known as the "International Bill of Rights" all forbid such discrimination. A state party's discrimination based on gender or sex is forbidden universally by every international human rights law. The UDHR declares that "everyone" is entitled to the freedoms It stated, "without distinction of any kind, such as race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinions, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.” 

“Although the UDHR is not a treaty and does not enjoy the same force of law as other human rights covenants, it represents the binding obligations of United Nations members and is generally considered a statement of customary international human rights law. Both the ICCPR and the ICESCR require states parties to guarantee all of the corresponding instruments' recognized rights.”

The Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) also acts against discrimination in its application. Furthermore, the European Convention, Russia's regional human rights instrument, stands against discrimination.  

From lack of domestic violence laws to starting codes that keep casualties in injurious day to day environments, to lack of concern in implementing laws, there are many reasons to assume that Russia isn't conforming to its lawful commitments under Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and other human rights conventions. The state has not prepared to train law implementation officials about their commitments to stop domestic aggression under the law. Russia’s domestic violence survivors must make attempts to consider the Russian government responsible to its human rights commitments along with international human rights conventions.



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