Domestic violence in Russia

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Domestic violence is widespread in Russia. An estimated 14,000 women die each year in Russia from domestic-violence-related injuries, or about 38 per day. According to Human Rights Watch, as many as 36,000 women and 26,000 children faced daily abuse at home in 2017. Domestic violence affects one in four Russian families.[1]

The drinking of alcohol is often a factor. Preventive work with families has been instituted by police and social services. A legislative change in 2017 decriminalised some instances of domestic violence.


In 2010 a representative of the Ministry of Internal Affairs Lt. Gen Mikhail Artamoshkin expressed his concerns over the country's crime rate, that had doubled in a mere five years between 2002 and 2006. He emphasized that also domestic violence had increased so that up to 40 percent of all serious violent crimes were committed within families. Every year about 11,000 women died in the hands of partners or other relatives, and 3,000 women killed their partners. In 90 percent of cases, a woman had first experienced systematic beating and violence.

About two-thirds of premeditated murders and grievous bodily harm was done in intimate relations or within families. The violence in one form or another was observed in almost every fourth family. The reasons for domestic crimes were different and included quarrels and scandals, hostile relations on the basis of families' problems, housing and domestic conflicts, which were often of long-lasting character.

As the main causes over the whole population Artamoshkin referred to "low morale" and income problems, while in wealthy families crimes happened also due to jealousy and avarice. High unemployment frustrated people and led to the abuse of alcohol and violence towards women and adolescents.

Artamoshkin pointed out that many preventing features in society vanished with the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. He stated that the militia officers of districts had started to work with families, in co-operation with child protection officials; and that, as a result of the preventive work, the annual cases of domestic violence had decreased by 25–30 percent. [2]

In a 2003 press release, Amnesty International claimed that, each day, 36,000 women in the Russian Federation were beaten by their husbands or partners.[3]

The situation was exacerbated by the lack of statistical data on violent crimes, which took into account the nature of relationship between the offender and the victim as well as gender breakdown,[4] and by the attitude of law enforcement officers that did not regard such violence as a serious crime, but rather, as a "private matter" between the spouses[5][6] and avoid to "interfere with family scandals".[7]

A 2008 article published in Journal of Interpersonal Violence regarding domestic violence among Russian college students found that "High prevalence rates were found for all types of violence, aggression, and [sexual] coercion. Consistent with previous research, male and female students were about equally likely to be victims and perpetrators of all violent and aggressive actions."[8]

Police statistics[edit]

Official statistics from the Russian Police Department (MVD) for 2008:[9]

  • Every fourth family in the country has experienced violence of different forms
  • Two-thirds of homicides are caused by family or household motives.
  • Up to 40% of all serious violent crimes are committed within families.


According to figures reported by the western media in 2013, women's deaths due to domestic violence had not been markedly diminished in a decade. BBC reported information from a Russian interior ministry that 600,000 women were physically or verbally abused at home and 14,000 of them died that year from injuries inflicted by their partner.[10] Reuters also reported that an estimated 10,000 to 14,000 women die at the hands of their partner or close relative every year.[11] This was still on par with the 14,000 reported in 2005 by[12] PBC, a conservative Christian organization, cited much lower figures in 2015, reporting that around 300 women per year died at the hands of husbands or other relatives and accusing feminists of inflating the figures.[13] In April 2019 the Moscow Times reported the yearly death toll was 12,000, citing "official sources."[14]


In July 2016, Ukrainian activist Anastasia Melnichenko published a post on Facebook in which she recounted her personal experience of sexual abuse and repudiated the idea that she was somehow to blame. She included the Ukrainian-language hashtag #яНеБоюсьСказати, which translates to #IAmNotAfraidToSayIt or #IAmNotAfraidToSpeak in English; #‎яНеБоюсьСказать in Russian. Her post was widely shared, and soon afterwards women in Russia and Ukraine began posting their own stories of sexual harassment and assault. Many said it was the first time they had spoken of the incidents. By August 2016, almost 200,000 women and men had expressed support or shared their stories on social media using her hashtag.[15][16][17][18][19][20][21][22]

The responses were mixed. Some who commented were supportive, but many others, including journalists, psychologists, and Orthodox Christian representatives, claimed the stories were fabricated, exaggerated, misandrist, or "undermining traditional values."[23]

According to a 2016 report from Global Information Society Watch, "gender-based violence in Russia is an everyday affair."[23] Throughout the former Soviet Union, sexual assault is rarely taken seriously, especially in Russia under Vladimir Putin. Even the most egregious rape cases, which at one time would have been universally condemned, often result in no punishment for the perpetrators.[24]


In February 2017, with the support of the Russian Orthodox Church, Russia decriminalized domestic violence in cases where it does not cause "substantial bodily harm" (such as broken bones or a concussion)[25] and does not happen more than once a year.[26] As a result, domestic violence increased[14][27] while reporting declined sharply, and police began to refuse to investigate domestic violence cases.[1]

Marina Pisklakova-Parker, director of the Anna Centre, an organization that helps domestic violence victims, said decriminalization has proven "very dangerous to the safety of thousands of Russian women."[27] In December 2018, Russia's top human rights official, Tatyana Moskalkova, called decriminalization a "mistake" and said new legislation was needed to combat domestic violence.[28]

NGOs filed a complaint with the United Nations in 2013 on behalf of Shema Timagova, a Chechen woman whose husband attempted to murder her with an axe. A Chechen court effectively cleared the husband, finding that the woman had "provoked" him into attacking her. In April 2019, in the UN's first ruling on domestic violence in Russia, the UN Committee for the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) ruled in Timagova's favor and ordered Russia to pay her "adequate financial compensation." CEDAW further stated that Russia must amend its laws to criminalize gender-based violence and properly investigate allegations of violence against women. Russia was given six months to submit a written response detailing the steps taken with regard to the case.[14][27]

Also in April 2019, the National Hockey League suspended defenseman Slava Voynov for the 2019-2020 season and 2020 playoffs, citing "unacceptable off-ice conduct" after he was arrested and charged with abusing his wife.[27]

Role of alcohol[edit]

A 1997 report published in the Journal of Family Violence, found that among male perpetrators of spousal homicide, 60–75% of offenders had been drinking prior to the incident.[29] A survey conducted by the Scientific Research Institute of the Family, 29% of people responding to the question “Why are children beaten in families with which you are acquainted?” reported that the violence was carried out by drunks and alcoholics.[29]

In a 2004 study of domestic violence in the Central Black Earth Region of Russia, 77% of offenders of violent crime (towards family members) were frequent drinkers – 12% engaged in regular binge drinking (three or four times a month), 30% three times a week or more, and 35% every day or almost every day.[29]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Denejkina, Anna (November 15, 2018). "In Russia, Feminist Memes Buy Jail Time, but Domestic Abuse Doesn't: A year after the country decriminalized domestic violence, women feel the consequences". Foreign Policy.
  2. ^ "МВД: ежегодно около 14 тысяч женщин погибает от рук мужей". 24 January 2008. Retrieved 22 February 2017.
  3. ^ "Russian Federation: Violence against Women - time to act". Amnesty International UK. 5 March 2003.
  4. ^ ANNA National Centre 2010, p. 17.
  5. ^ "Concluding Observations: Russian Federation". Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women. 2002.
  6. ^ ANNA National Centre 2010, p. 4.
  7. ^ "Domestic Violence". Moscow Helsinki Group.
  8. ^ Lysova A.V., Douglas E.M. (2008). Intimate partner violence among male and female Russian university students. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 23(11), 1579-1599 DOI: 10.1177/0886260508314320
  9. ^ "Комитет ГД по охране здоровья". Retrieved 14 March 2017.
  10. ^ "The silent nightmare of domestic violence in Russia". 1 March 2013. Retrieved 5 February 2017.
  11. ^ Gabriela Baczynska (Aug 20, 2013). "Victims of domestic violence face uphill battle for protection in Russia". Reuters. Retrieved 20 February 2017.
  12. ^ Mariya Rasner (March 10, 2005). "Russian Women Struggle to Survive Domestic Violence". We-News. Retrieved 20 February 2017.
  13. ^ Родительское Всероссийское Сопротивление (2017-02-08), Жёны гибнут реже мужей. И намного реже, чем хотят говорить феминистки, retrieved 14 March 2017
  14. ^ a b c "UN Committee Sides Against Russia in First Domestic Violence Ruling". The Moscow Times. April 12, 2019.
  15. ^ "A Revolution Has Started Against Rapists in Ukraine and Russia". The Daily Beast. August 11, 2016.
  16. ^ "Russian women speak up about sexual abuse". Arizona Daily Star. Associated Press. July 20, 2016 – via
  17. ^ "My story of sexual abuse is changing perceptions in Ukraine". BBC. August 29, 2016.
  18. ^ "Russian and Ukrainian women's sexual abuse stories go viral". The Guardian. July 8, 2016.
  19. ^ "Organizer of #IAmNotAfraidToSayIt explains meaning behind hashtag". Women in the World. July 13, 2016.
  20. ^ "I Am Not Afraid to Speak: Russian Online Flash Mob Condemns Sexual Violence". The Moscow Times. July 11, 2016.
  21. ^ "#IamNotAfraidToSay: Victims of sexual assault in Ukraine and Russia break taboo". DW News. July 27, 2016.
  22. ^ "The woman who wasn't 'afraid to say it' Anastasiya Melnychenko explains her campaign to get Ukrainians and Russians talking about sexual violence". Meduza. July 8, 2016.
  23. ^ a b Manshina, Daria (2016). "Russia: Gender-Based Violence and the Realisation of Socioeconomic Rights" (PDF). Global Information Society Watch: 194–197.
  24. ^ Aripova, Feruza; Johnson, Janet Elise (September 2018). "The Ukrainian-Russian Virtual Flashmob against Sexual Assault". The Journal of Social Policy Studies: 487–500. doi:10.17323/727-0634-2018-16-3-487-500 – via ResearchGate.
  25. ^ "What happened after Russia decriminalised domestic abuse: Despite a chronic domestic violence problem, a new law has made punishing abusers even harder. Where does Russia go from here?". New Humanist. June 11, 2018.
  26. ^ "Russia parliament votes 380-3 to decriminalize domestic violence". USA Today. January 27, 2017.
  27. ^ a b c d "Domestic Violence Victim Wins Case Against Russia at UN". Transitions Online. April 15, 2019.
  28. ^ "Decriminalization of Domestic Violence Was a 'Mistake,' Russian Official Admits". The Moscow Times. December 3, 2018.
  29. ^ a b c "Interpersonal Violence and Alcohol in the Russian Federation" (PDF). World Health Organization. 2006. p. 4. Retrieved May 12, 2010.

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