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Is Russia Decriminalizing Domestic Violence?

By Christopher Coble, Esq. on February 13, 2017 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

In Russia, slapping your spouse might not get you much more than a slap on the wrist, if even that. Russian President Vladimir Putin enacted the country's "slapping law," under which a first-time domestic abuse incident that doesn't result in serious injury is more of an administrative offense rather than a crime.

The law, intended to promote "traditional family values," has received stark criticism from human rights groups and staunch support from Russian politicians.

Liberal Violence

"I don't think that we should violate the rights of family and sometimes a man and a woman, wife and husband, have a conflict," Russian Duma member Vitaly Milonov told CNN. "Sometimes in this conflict they use, I don't know, a frying pan, uncooked spaghetti, and so on. Frankly speaking what we call home violence is not home violence -- it's sort of a new picture of family relations created by liberal media."

Under Russia's new law, physical altercations with spouses and children (involving frying pans or otherwise) that result in "minor harm," are now considered a misdemeanor-like offense, punishable only by a fine of up to $500 or 15 days in jail, down from a possible two-year sentence.

Little Punishment

Amnesty International ripped the new law. "While the Russian government claims this reform will 'protect family values', in reality it rides roughshod over women's rights," according to Anna Kirey, Deputy Director for Campaigns for Russia and Eurasia at Amnesty International. "It is a sickening attempt to further trivialize domestic violence, an issue the Russian government has long attempted to downplay. Far too often, victims find they cannot rely on the law for protection and their abusers are let off the hook, with only a tiny fraction imprisoned for their actions."

Meanwhile, the Independent is reporting that Russian newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda told battered women to "be proud of their bruises," on the grounds they're allegedly "more likely to give birth to boys." Advice that should follow the Russian proverb, "If he beats you, it means he loves you," into the dustbin of history.

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