New Russian legislation causes outcry among women’s rights activists

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New Russian legislation causes outcry among women's rights activists

In Russia, a controversial legislation signed by President Vladimir Putin is causing outcry among women’s rights activists. Known as “slapping law,” the legislation decriminalizes some forms of domestic violence.

CGTN’s Daria Condarchuk reports.

New Russian legislation causes outcry among women's rights activists

New Russian legislation causes outcry among women's rights activists

In Russia, a controversial legislation signed by President Vladimir Putin is causing outcry among women’s rights activists. Known as “slapping law,” the legislation decriminalizes some forms of domestic violence. CGTN’s Daria Condarchuk reports.

Leonilla hasn’t seen her stepbrothers for more than a year. Her stepfather, who had been beating her and other family members since she was five years old, forced her to leave the house when she turned 18. He is still living with Leonilla’s mother and their four children, and restricts communication between them.

“He treated me like a piece of furniture. He would push me around or throw things at me saying ‘I don’t know you. I can’t take you,” Leonilla said.

Leonilla opposes the new Russian law that relaxes punishment for some forms of domestic violence from jail time to a fine. However, some Russian lawmakers argue the change does not mean abusers are simply let off.

“The consequences still are quite serious. A fine of 5000 to 30,000 roubles or a possibility of arrest from 5 to 15 days or a community service,” Valentina Matviyenko, Russian Parliament’s upper house speaker said.

The new law said beatings within families that result in “minor harm,” like “bruises, superficial wounds, and soft-tissue damage” constitute an administrative, rather than a criminal offense for first-time abusers. A criminal case may be opened if more abuse occurs within a year.

Many activists say the law will make it much harder for the victims to hold their attackers accountable. Some Russian women, like Leonilla have been protesting the legislation before it was passed. Crisis centers for abused women were fear they will see an increase in the number of people needing their services.

While the amended law was given near unanimous approval by the Russian Parliament and signed by President Vladimir Putin, women’s rights campaigners are pledging to continue to protest the change in rules which they say deprives victims of much-needed protection.