HR Ombudsman favours legislation against domestic violence
Russia’s High Commissioner for Human Rights, Tatyana Moskalkova, has called for the introduction of a law to reduce violent abuse in the home. Speaking at the ‘Women against violence’ conference in Moscow on 7 December, Moskalkova said the draft document should recommend state financing for centres currently organised by volunteers, who fundraise to help give women emotional, psychological and physical support. She also proposed that a helpline should be set up for victims of domestic abuse.
The international conference was organised by the Moscow ombudsman Tatyana Potyaeva under the auspices of the UN campaign ‘16 Days of Activism against Gender Based Violence’.
The High Commissioner’s press office reports that Moskalkova also emphasised the importance of ratifying the Council of Europe Convention ‘On preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence’ (Istanbul Convention, opened for signature on 11 May 2011).
‘The Convention has drawn on ideas that Russian society has long cherished and publicised. Most Council of Europe member states have signed and ratified it. I see no danger or obstacle to us joining the Council of Europe on this issue,’ the ombudsman said. She also emphasised the importance of opening a helpline any woman could use if needed. This would help create a clear picture of the scale of the problem in Russia. Moskalkova called on anyone concerned about domestic abuse to take action and help combat violence against women.
The conference press release indicates that in Russia most violent crimes take place in the home. Victims of domestic abuse include women, children, disabled people and the elderly. Violence often takes place without witnesses so there is difficulty in bringing the perpetrator to justice. Victims do not always feel able to speak out.
According to a nationwide telephone line for women who have been violently abused at home (telefon doveria), 60% of callers have never sought help from the police. Of those who have done so, 78% are unhappy with the assistance given. Women who have been victims of domestic abuse face a whole range of obstacles when seeking to defend their rights.
Russia has no specific law to address violence against women, even though such legislation exists in 125 other countries. Evidence suggests that the implementation of laws expressly designed to prevent violence is more effective than the application of individual articles from criminal, civil or administrative codes.