Moscow — Sitting in the cramped kitchen of its headquarters on the outskirts of Moscow, Aryona Popova points to the next five-story brick complex and homes at the heart of a campaign to seek seats in the Russian House of Representatives, Duma. I explained why there is internal violence.
“Each entrance has a story of domestic violence,” she said. “Immediately there are two grandmothers who have just been beaten by relatives. The next one is a mother with three children. She was beaten by her husband. And there is a son. I have a mother who was beaten by. “
When she is stuck across the 205th constituency, a working-class district at the eastern end of Moscow, Ms. Popova is the ruling party of Vladimirputin, United Russia, who has withdrawn women’s protection over the past few years. Begging women to oppose. Prior to this weekend’s elections, she urgently raised the issue and proposed that all acts of domestic violence be subject to criminal penalties, which goes beyond the platform of her campaign.
According to Popova’s analysis of data collected by the Russian National Bureau of Statistics, there are more than 16.5 million victims of domestic violence each year. According to one study, more than 12,200 women, two-thirds of the women killed in Russia between 2011 and 2019, were killed by their partners and relatives.
“This is our reality. The only term we can use is’epidemic’,” said Popova, 38, a lawyer and activist working with the liberal Yabloko Party, although he is not a member. ,Told.
There is some evidence that many Russians agree with her. A 2020 poll conducted by an independent Levada Center found that nearly 80% of respondents believed that legislation was needed to curb domestic violence. The petition initiated by Mr Popova to uphold such a law has collected nearly one million signatures.
But do these supporters vote? And in authoritarian Russia, where election results are effectively pre-determined, does that make a difference?
Even in countries where women make up 54% of the population, domestic violence rarely exists as a vibrant problem for voters, including corruption, rising consumer prices, lack of economic opportunities, and coronavirus pandemics. I’m lagging behind.
“For our voters, this issue is in 90th place,” said Pyotr O. Tolstoy, Duma’s vice-chairman, who is seeking a second term with United Russia.
He ridiculed the proposal that a woman might abandon his party, which holds 336 of Duma’s 450 seats. Indeed, women are a core part of United Russia’s voter base. This is because they dominate the public sector’s work in areas such as education, medicine and government. That is, income often depends on the political system of power.
Irina Yugchenko, 43, was also skeptical of Popova’s recent focus on domestic violence when she left the subway station one night. “Of course there should be a law, but if it happens to women more than once, we have to ask why,” she said in a common view in Russia. “If my friends deal with this, they won’t accept it.”
She was undecided about who to vote for and suspected that the election would make a difference, ironically adding that “we are not voting for the first time.” July 2021 According to the survey, only 22% of respondents plan to vote, the lowest level in 17 years.
Over the last decade, Mr Putin and his party have become more and more conservative in their social policy. As the conflict with the western part of Russia expanded, the Kremlin began to establish itself as a hub for traditional family values. The state promoted patriarchal family structure and supported a reactionary attitude towards LGBTQ Russians.
In 2016, the government labeled the Moscow-based Anna Center. The center is a “foreign agent” that provides legal, material and psychological support to women dealing with abuse. This designation has negative implications and imposes tedious requirements. Last year, the government designated another group, Nasiliu.net (“NoToViolence”), as a foreign agent.
Congressman Duma voted 380-3 in 2017, partially denying domestic violence and reducing it to administrative crime if it occurs only once a year. Harm that causes bruising and bleeding but does not fracture is punished with a fine of 5,000 rubles ($ 68), slightly more than illegal parking. Only injuries such as concussion and broken bones, or repetitive crimes against family members lead to criminal accusations. There is no legal means for the police to issue a detention order.
The draft anti-domestic violence law proposed in 2019 began discussions in Duma, but was eventually significantly revised, and early supporters, including Popova, felt “fear”. .. It was never voted.
But in recent years, some dramatic events have caused anger and made the problem more politically powerful. In one famous case, Margarita’s Ceva’s husband cut off his hands with an ax in 2017, months after he began seeking protection from the police. (He was later sentenced to 14 years in prison. She is currently co-sponsoring a show on domestic violence on state television.)
“Finally, the issue has become very noticeable and political,” said Marina Pisklakova-Parker, director of the Anna Center.
In April, the Russian Constitutional Court concluded that both protection against victims and punishment for criminals were inadequate, and ordered lawmakers to amend the criminal law to punish perpetrators of repeated domestic violence. I did. Advocates have registered a surge in domestic violence related to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Duma is not acting.
Many United Russia voters appreciate the government voucher given to their mothers. This benefit has recently been extended to women with only one child, as Moscow is trying to promote the country’s declining birthrate.
But that is not a substitute for basic protection, said Oksana Pushkina. Oksana Pushkina entered Duma with United Russia in 2016, making the fight against domestic violence one of its priorities.
“All of these are support measures designed to leave women at home and not create opportunities for her self-fulfillment and financial independence,” she said. “In this way, Russian authorities offer the basic needs of Russian women in return for political loyalty, but such government spending is by no means a social investment.”
Pushkina, who defended the domestic violence law in Duma, was not invited to run for the second term.
“Apparently, the people of United Russia and the presidential government thought I was too independent and the professor’s agenda was too dangerous,” she said.
Experts and survivors say much of the opposition to the 2019 bill was unknown, and many opposition said the man could lose his property if a detention order was imposed, or He falsely claimed that the child could be taken away from his family.
“They are afraid that Stalin’s era, which people have informed their neighbors, will return,” said Irina Petracova, a human resources assistant who survived seven years of abuse by her ex-husband. She reported 23 cases to authorities eight times, but said her husband had not spent a day in prison.
She, Gracheva and two other women are suing Russia in the European Court of Human Rights for failing to protect them.
Petrakova, who also serves as a life coach, said she supported Popova in the adjacent district. But she shrugged when asked if United Russia could separate women from the party by refusing to fight domestic violence. Many of the voters survived the turbulent 1990s and appreciated stability, she said.
She was going to vote, but said there were no good candidates in her district.
“If I could checkmark everyone, I would,” she said.