A bill sponsored by conservative Russian senator Yelena Mizulina, most famous for her successful anti-LGBT legislation, has been passed. The new law lowers the penalties for domestic violence in a country with inordinately high levels of abuse within families.
The bill sailed through its first reading in the State Duma in a vote of 368 to 1. The second and third readings also easily passed and the bill awaited only Putin’s signature, which CNN reports he applied on Tuesday. The new “slapping law” makes a first offense less consequential, provided you don’t seriously injure the person:
The punishment carries a fine of up to 30,000 rubles ($507), an arrest up to 15 days, or compulsory community service up to 120 hours.
In cases of repeated assaults, a defendant faces a fine of up to 40,000 rubles ($676), compulsory community service for up to six months, or being held under arrest for up to three months.
Human Rights Watch has warned that the law is in conflict with “Russia’s international human rights obligations” and that the country has terrible infrastructure for supporting victims attempting to seek refuge from domestic abuse, stating that “victims of domestic violence already face enormous obstacles to getting help or justice.”
The Guardian reports that in Moscow there appeared to be little protest to the decision, in part due to “lack of interest” and in part due to the government withholding permission. NewsRu states that an application for a rally outside the capitol building in Bolotnaya Square on January 28 was rejected by authorities, who said that they could not accommodate the anticipated 1,000 protestors.
An activist named Alena Popova was interviewed by the Guardian. Popova believes she would accept the new law if one promising to work on issues of domestic violence in Russia were passed simultaneously. She adds, “Passing these amendments and not passing the other law is another sign that our society refuses to take this problem seriously.” Popova did stand alone in the street in Moscow with a sign protesting the new law, and says passersby told her “some women deserved to be beaten.”