Rus­sian par­lia­ment isn’t tak­ing do­mes­tic vi­o­lence se­ri­ously

Pawtucket Times - - OPINION -

This ap­peared in Sun­day's Washington Post.

Vic­tims of do­mes­tic vi­o­lence are of­ten help­less to fight back, for rea­sons of fear, shame and feel­ings of de­feat. A civ­i­lized so­ci­ety en­acts laws to pro­tect such vul­ner­a­ble peo­ple.

The de­ci­sion by the Rus­sian par­lia­ment to change the law in or­der to decriminalize some forms of do­mes­tic vi­o­lence is wrong-headed and sends a message that bru­tal­ity in a fam­ily is le­git­i­mate.

On Fri­day, the Rus­sian lower house of par­lia­ment, the State Duma, ap­proved a bill that de­crim­i­nal­izes do­mes­tic bat­tery for first-time of­fend­ers. Bat­tery against a fam­ily mem­ber will be sub­ject to ad­min­is­tra­tive rather than crim­i­nal penalty if it does not cause se­ri­ous med­i­cal harm. Vi­o­la­tions can be punished with a fine of up to 30,000 rubles or about $500, po­lice cus­tody of up to 15 days or com­pul­sory com­mu­nity ser­vice of up to 120 hours. Sec­ond-time of­fenses and those causing se­ri­ous med­i­cal harm would still be crim­i­nal vi­o­la­tions and pun­ish­able by up to two years in prison.

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