Domestic Violence

Published on January 30th, 2017 | by Claude Saravia

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Russian Parliament Overwhelmingly Votes to Decrease Domestic Violence Penalties

Domestic Violence is no longer a serious crime in Russia after Russia’s parliament voted to change an existing law that had previously made domestic abuse a criminal offence.

The State Duma, Russia’s parliament, voted last week by an overwhelming 380-3 to eliminate criminal liability for first-time offenders who commit battery on family members that does not cause bodily harm, according to the BBC.

Read the full law on the Official Legal Information Portal.

olga-batalina

The press has dubbed this new provision as the “slapping law.”. The law was originally drafted by a female MP named Olga Batalina (pictured above).

Battery is now excluded from the Russian Federal Criminal Code if it has not resulted in the consequences stipulated in Article 115 of the code (intentional infliction of bodily harm).

A first time domestic violence offense will now be considered an administrative issue rather than a criminal one. Assaults causing serious injury or repeat offences within a year would still be criminal offences and carry potential jail terms.

Outside of changing the penalties for battery, the law also reclassifies nonpayment of alimony and petty theft as misdemeanors, according to The Russian Reader.

MP Andrei Isayev of the main Kremlin faction, the United Russia, defended the bill as a move to limit state interference in family matters. Isayev told the AP that lawmakers were “heeding the public call” by correcting a mistake they made last year.

The mistake Isayev refers to was a change in the criminal code in July of 2016 which decriminalized battery against strangers, but made battery within the family a criminal offence.

Following that change, a high profile incident in November of 2016 led to prosecutors investigating a police officer who took a call from a woman complaining about her boyfriend’s aggressive behavior, according to the AP. Instead of offering help, the officer reportedly told the woman that the police would only come if she got killed. Shortly afterward, the man beat the woman to death.

Russian critics of the new law have warned that it would encourage domestic violence and lead to more incidents going unreported.

Communist lawmaker Yury Sinelshchikov said “Women don’t often go to the police or the courts regarding their abusive husbands.”

“Now there will be even fewer such cases, and the number of murders will increase,” Sinelshchikov told the BBC.

domestic-violence-map

The updated penalties are now changed to the following:

Battery now can carry a fine of 5,000 to 30,000 rubles for first-time offenders,  a possible jail term of 10 to 15 days or compulsory community service of 60 to 120 hours.

Nonpayment of alimony, according to the law, will be punishable by compulsory community service for a period of up to 150 hours or a jail term of 10 to 15 days. Persons to whom these forms of punished cannot be applied will be fined 20,000 rubles.

If the property stolen is worth less than 1,000 rubles, then it will be punishable by a fine of up to five times the value of the stolen goods, but not less than 1,000 rubles, a jail term of up to 15 days or compulsory community service of up to 50 hours.

If the property stolen is valued between 1,000 and 2,500 rubles, the theft is punishable by fine of no less than 3,000 rubles, a jail term of 10 to 15 days, or compulsory community service of up to 120 hours.

alyona-popova

petition launched by woman’s rights activist Alena Popova (pictured above) calling for comprehensive legislation against domestic violence had reached nearly 250,000 signatures as of press time.

According to official statistics, which are difficult to verify as many crimes go unreported, a quarter of all murders and serious assaults in Russia take place in the home.

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