News

Domestic Violence Kills One Russian Woman Every Hour

Every hour in Russia, a woman dies at the hands of a relative, partner, or former partner, according to a new report on domestic violence by Amnesty International. The report, entitled "Nowhere to turn to - violence against women in the family," takes Russia's government to task for failing to adequately address the problem.

Svetlana is one of the lucky ones. She survived 10 years of marriage to an abusive alcoholic, the last seven years of which were fraught with increased beatings and hospital visits. She told VOA that for several years her husband even beat her in front of their young daughter.

But Svetlana, whose last name is being withheld for her protection, says she never called the police for fear of what he might do. When Svetlana finally summoned the courage to report her husband's actions, after one particularly bad beating, she says the police came to their house, but believed his side of the story that everything was okay between them. Immediately after the police left, she says, the beatings started again.  Svetlana says she felt utterly alone in trying to solve the problem.

Hers is a grim, but familiar story across Russia, where Amnesty International says domestic violence against women is mostly ignored by the authorities, with horrific results.

According to the most recent Russian Interior Ministry figures, 9,000 women were killed by a partner or relative in Russia in 2003. The Interior Ministry also notes that 60 to 75 percent of women killed by a partner were killed after the relationship ended.

But other than keeping sketchy figures of the killings, Amnesty campaigner Friederike Behr says Russian authorities are doing very little to tackle the problem. Ms. Behr says, as a member of the Council of Europe and signatory to a number of international human rights conventions, Russia has an obligation to actively protect the rights of all Russian women.

"Too often the authorities claim that it is not their business, that they can't do something against this problem," said Friederike Behr. "That is simply not true. They need to raise awareness about the problem. They need to make it clear that it is a criminal offense to beat someone, no matter what the circumstance."

Ms. Behr says there is also a need for many more 24-hour call centers and physical shelters in Russia, where women can get the critical help they need in the event of abuse.

One of the more shocking statistics in the Amnesty report is that the capital city - Moscow - with a population numbering well over 10 million, does not have a single shelter to house victims of domestic violence. The nearest shelter is in Khimki, on the Northern outskirts, and Muscovites are not afforded service there because they do not have residency status for Khimki.

Svetlana says she wishes there had been a shelter available for her and her child, so that she could have escaped her abusive husband sooner.  She says she was only able to break the cycle of violence, once she found psychological and legal support. After calling several hotlines for help, she says refuge came from a Moscow-based group known as "Anna," one of the few remaining non-governmental organizations in Russia dealing with domestic violence.

Andrei Sinelnikov is a member of Anna, or the Association No to Violence. He says that at least 18 non-governmental organizations or charities working on issues of domestic violence against women have been closed in Russia this year alone, due to a lack of federal and local funding.

In his view, the Russian government does not view domestic violence as a big enough problem requiring serious funds and resources - in comparison to combating international terrorism for example. As a result, Mr. Sinelnikov says front-line officials who confront domestic abuse on a daily basis, from police to judges to health care workers, also do not take violence against women very seriously.

"All members of these professions should be made more aware of domestic violence as a serious crime and they should feel responsible for [carrying out an] effective response," said Andrei Sinelnikov. "Unfortunately, right now, this issue is not included in the training and curriculum for such professional groups."

Mr. Sinelnikov says women also have a responsibility to educate themselves about their rights. But Ms. Behr of Amnesty International says that hasn't always been easy in Russia where, she says, a culture of violence, as the norm, has prevailed for far too long. "I think that's also a big problem that many people feel they don't have the right," she said. "That maybe it is a generous gesture from the state to provide shelters, or to provide free legal advise, and it is not. It is a duty of the state."

Ms. Behr says Amnesty International is urging the Russian government to enact and enforce proper criminal laws, which recognize violence against women in the family as a distinct and serious crime. As it stands now, she says, many Russian authorities assert that domestic violence is a private matter, beyond the bounds of the state.

Russian officials were not available to speak to VOA on their government's position on the subject of violence against women. There is no record of any official policy statement on the subject.

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmakingi
X
Bernard Shusman
May 24, 2015 2:55 PM
According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.
Video

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.
Video

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.
Video

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.
Video

Video Effort Underway to Limit Damage from California Oil Spill

Cleanup crews are working around the clock to remove oil from the waters off the coastal city of Santa Barbara, in California. About 380,000 liters of oil may have leaked out before a rupture in an onshore, underground pipeline was discovered Tuesday. The environmental disaster hit the popular West Coast resort area before the Memorial Day weekend. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports investigators have yet to determine what caused the incident.

VOA Blogs