A petition calling for tougher legislation against domestic violence in Russia received over 650,000 signatures by Monday thanks to a massive campaign on social media networks.
Some 10 days ago, about a dozen female Russian bloggers and activists began posting photos of themselves wearing make-up suggesting bruises, cuts and blood, accompanied by the slogan: “I did not want to die”. They were followed by millions of people on various platforms.
The campaign is aimed at publicising a petition calling on Russia to come up with a law that introduces the concept of “domestic violence” and protects victims of such abuses, which affect mainly women.
Launched a few years ago by Aliona Popova, a leading women’s rights activist in Russia, the petition received about 650,000 signatures in just a few days, in a country where domestic violence is rarely discussed in public. “In Russia, close to 16 million women are victims of domestic violence each year, according to Rosstat” (the official statistical agency), Popova said on Monday at a press conference in Moscow.
“One in every three women in Russia is beaten by her husband or partner,” commented Olga Kravstova, a very popular female blogger. “Every 45 minutes, a woman is killed at home – very frightening statistics.”
In 2017, in a move that ran counter to the #MeToo movement, the Russian authorities de-penalised some forms of violence within the family circle in the name of protecting “traditional values”, according to advocates of the measure.
In July, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) highlighted the fact that Russian law “does not recognise” such violence and that the authorities are “reluctant to recognise the seriousness of the problem.” It noted that the Russian authorities had not established general measures to protect people from maltreatment and that Russia tolerates a climate conducive to domestic violence.
In late June, the case of three young sisters on trial for killing their father, whom they had accused of constant violence and sexual abuse, aroused a wave of indignation in Russia. In December 2017, another case had caused a scandal, that of Margarita Gratcheva, whose husband had chopped off her hands with an axe after torturing her in a forest near Moscow.
One month before that, the young woman had lodged a complaint, which was ignored by the police.