“Russia should adopt a federal programme to deal with violence against women”
On the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, the Independent National Commission on Women’s Rights and Violence against Women presented its report. It covers interviews conducted during the Commission’s monitoring activities, surveys, and news from regional NGOs and from letters from Russian victims. The Commission was founded in 2008 based on the National “Anna” Centre for the Prevention of Violence. Its members are Russian experts and representatives of NGOs with experience of working with victims and knowledge of issues of gender equality and human rights. Members stated that violence against women is extremely common, with thousands of victims in Russia. The Anna Centre’s statistics show that every hour a Russian woman is killed by her husband or partner, and every half-hour a rape is committed in Russia. Every year thousands become victims of human trafficking, hundreds of women are forced into marriage, and dozens die as a result of so-called honour killings. The report shows that over the past 20 years a large amount of work has been done to combat violence against women. However, at state level there is so far no systematic approach to this work. The Commission pointed out that current legislation is ineffective, especially as regards domestic and sexual violence, and crimes of violence connected with tradition. Experts consider that the existing administrative-legislative base fails to take account of the specific nature of crimes against women and the threats that violence presents to their health, security and lives.
The Commission described cases in which women’s allegations had failed to be recorded or taken notice of by the law enforcement authorities. According to the Director of the Anna Centre, Marina Pisklakova, they consider domestic and sexual violence not as serious crimes against the person, but as a private matter of marital relations. Prosecutors often fail to take any action. The judiciary, in dealing with such cases, fails to take account of the nature of the offence. Medical staff often refuse to examine victims of sexual violence or to collect evidence. The Commission also drew attention to the lack of preventive action. There is little protection offered to victims, which is particularly important for victims of domestic violence. There is no longer a system of compulsory treatment for chronic alcoholics and no therapy available for men with aggressive tendencies, who could be sent for such treatment by the courts. There is also a lack of early intervention with adolescents and youths who show violent tendencies.
The Commission recommends setting up a permanent national mechanism to improve the situation of women. For this a new law should be adopted on a “National Mechanism for the Realization of the Constitutional Principle of Equality of Men and Women in Russia”, with competent institutions at federal, regional and local level with the necessary budgets. It also recommends the adoption of a Federal Programme for the Elimination of Violence against Women and preventive measures against such violence. There should also be state funding for a network of shelters and crisis centres for victims of violence. State-funded information campaigns should raise gender awareness among the general public.