Russia's State-Sponsored Femicide
In Russia, Each year 14,000 women are murdered in femicide and 13 million more are victims of male violence. A fifth of all Russian women are reported to be violently assaulted by a partner each year. 40% of all violent crimes against Russian women are committed within their families by a male relative or partner. 80% of female prisoners convicted of pre-meditated murder in Russia were acting in self-defence against a violent partner.
In 2018 three sisters were arrested for killing their abusive father who drove away their mother at gun point. The father, Mikhail Khachaturyan was a businessman who made a name for himself running protection rackets in the 1990s. "He tortured them at night, wouldn't let them sleep ... He did whatever he liked. He had a bell and each of them had to come and submit to whatever he desired. The kids were really suffering." One night, while Khachaturyan was asleep in an armchair his eldest daughter Krestina pepper-sprayed his face. Maria stabbed him with a hunting knife while Angelina hit him on the head with a hammer. According to a statement given by their mother "They were protecting themselves - they actually had no choice." Public outcry led to protests in their support highlighting it was self-defense.
For several years human rights defenders in Russia have tried and failed to secure official recognition of and protection for victims of domestic violence. At least 40 drafts have been proposed since the early 1990s. The most recent proposal was a bill in 2016, which was rejected. In 2017 the State Duma relaxed punishments for some forms of domestic violence, amid a campaign for “family values.” In 2017 Parliament passed the 'slapping law' which made any domestic violence that does not cause hospital treatment an administrative rather than a criminal offense. First-time offenders of violence against women can walk away with fines as low as 5,000 rubles ($88) and go back home to continue their abuse.
In 2019 human rights defenders submitted a draft law against domestic violence. It has not yet been adopted, and faces strong resistance. The Kremlin and ultraconservative groups regularly target human rights defenders and groups against violence towards women and also cast them as US funded "traitors". In 2020 under the COVID19 pandemic lockdown calls to special hotlines set up by human rights defenders to report domestic violence soared. In 2020, Putin’s annual grants program gave only $26,968 to organizations protecting victims of domestic violence, an 88% drop from 2019.
All but one of an estimated dozen male violence against women crisis centers and legal-aid organizations were denied funding for 2021. The exact number of women abused while in lockdown is currently unknown but experts estimate that it may have skyrocketed in Russia.