Russia Decriminalizing Domestic Violence

As long as it happens just once a year, doesn't cause serious injury
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 27, 2017 1:03 PM CST
Russia Decriminalizing Domestic Violence
Russian lawmakers vote at the Duma (lower parliament house) in Moscow on Friday.   (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

Domestic violence is inarguably bad—but for nearly 400 members of Russia's parliament, it's not that bad if it only happens once a year and doesn't cause "substantial bodily harm." That's the 380-3 opinion that led to a bill being passed Friday in the country's Duma, or lower chamber, to decriminalize domestic violence violations and instead issue a fine of around $500 or a 15-day arrest if it doesn't happen again within 12 months, USA Today reports. The upper chamber gets a crack at the bill next, where it's expected to sail through before moving on to President Vladimir Putin's desk—and he's already suggested he'll support it. The decision would reverse the country's Supreme Court decision last year to keep criminal charges for anyone accused of battery against family members.

"Violence isn't just a norm, it's our style of life," an advocate for tougher laws tells the Economist. (The magazine takes note of a Russian proverb: "If he beats you, it means he loves you.") Indeed, a mid-January survey by a state-run pollster found 19% of Russians believe, "in certain circumstances," that it "can be acceptable" to hit a spouse or child. And last year's court decision to keep family abuse criminal elicited criticism from conservative lawmakers and organizations, including one pol who said the decision was being "anti-family" by dictating how kids could be raised. Supporters of Friday's bill say it will put the onus on those who need it most—repeat offenders—but critics are shaking their heads, the AP reports. "This bill would establish violence as a norm of conduct," one lawmaker said during Friday's debate, per the news agency. (More Russia stories.)

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