In Russia, giving one's spouse a slap is nothing extraordinary for many people. This week, the Russian parliament is expected to take a step closer toward decriminalizing it altogether, reports the AP. Battery is a criminal offense in Russia, but a study this month showed that 19% of Russians say "it can be acceptable" to hit one's wife, husband, or child "in certain circumstances." In a bid to accommodate conservative voters, deputies in the lower house of parliament have given initial approval to a bill eliminating criminal liability for domestic violence that stops short of serious bodily harm or rape. If the measure passes its second reading in the Duma on Wednesday, approval in the third and final reading would be a foregone conclusion. From the Duma, it would proceed to the upper house, largely a rubber-stamp body, then to President Vladimir Putin's desk.
Putin, pressed on the issue, said "it's better not to spank children and refer to some traditions," but added, "We should not go overboard with it (punishment for battery). It's not good, it harms families." The bill would make battery on a family member punishable by less than $500 or a 15-day arrest. Stats show that 40% of Russia's violent crimes occur in family settings. In 2013, more than 9,000 women were killed in domestic violence incidents. Olga Batalina, a bill co-author, said the penalty for battery should be lenient for violence "committed in an emotional conflict, without malice, without grave consequences. We're only talking about bruises, scratches, which is bad, too, of course," Batalina said. Activist Alyona Popova is not surprised. "Society is judgmental," she said. "You're a bad woman if you allow this to happen to you, or you're airing dirty laundry and you're to blame, or it's he beats you it means he loves you." (Read more domestic violence stories.)