Wednesday, August 24, 2016


Brutal Killing In Russia Highlights Lack Of Domestic Violence Law

The husband of Irina Kabanova, 39, confessed to strangling her to death after an argument.
The husband of Irina Kabanova, 39, confessed to strangling her to death after an argument.
By Tom Balmforth
MOSCOW -- When Aleksei Kabanov appealed on his blog just after New Year's for help finding his missing wife, Irina, it evoked sympathy.

But this soon turned to disgust and horror when police discovered her dismembered body and Kabanov, 39, confessed on January 11 to strangling her to death after the two had a vicious argument.

Irina Kabanova (also 39) was just one of thousands of women who are killed in domestic violence incidents in Russia every year. But the publicity her case has generated has helped drive the issue of spousal abuse out from the shadows, shining a spotlight on a problem that has long been belittled and ignored.

Olga Kostina, head of the Moscow-based group Resistance, which advocates on behalf of domestic-violence victims, is at the forefront of the struggle.

"The key is for us to battle for a law to defend the victims of these crimes and to provide them with social guarantees that in any case are supposed to be ensured by the Russian Constitution," she says.

That Russia, more than a decade into the 21st century, has no law specifically addressing the issue of domestic violence has long infuriated women's rights advocates.

Speaking to journalists earlier on January 15, Kostina, a member of Russia's Public Chamber, which advises the Kremlin, said a bill would be introduced in the State Duma as early as February.

'Liberal Crazies'

The bill has been in the works since September of last year, though the public attention currently focused on the issue appears to have built up momentum.

But efforts to address the issue have also drawn opposition. "So the liberal crazies are trying to introduce the western model to destroy the family? It’s time to drive out this Kostina," one commentator wrote in the online newspaper "Vzglyad."

According to those familiar with the proposed legislation, it would recognize domestic violence as a crime, empower police and courts to issue restraining orders, and require offenders to undergo counseling.

If an effective domestic violence bill passes and is signed into law, advocates say it would mark a breakthrough in a country where, according to various estimates, between 10,000 and 14,000 women die each year from spousal abuse -- as many as one every 40 minutes.

Battered women currently find little recourse under the law, activists say.

Many women are economically dependent on their husbands and are reluctant to report abuse -- and doing so can also lead to more violence. Police, meanwhile, cannot intervene until a crime has been committed, by which time it is often too late.

Mari Davtian, an attorney with the ANNA Center, which assists victims of domestic violence, suggests only one in 10 abused women file complaints. 

"A woman herself has to file a case to the court and prove that she was subjected to a crime," he said. "As you understand, that is practically impossible in conditions of domestic violence. If a woman lives with the person she is taking to court, then she is in danger."

Russia’s legislation lags behind many of its post-Soviet neighbors on the issue. "Unfortunately, we are one of the last to pass such a law," Davtian says.

She has pointed out that Lithuania's law on family violence has cut spousal abuse by up to 70 percent in that country. In Moldova, a similar law led to a 30-percent drop.

Davtian has also drawn attention to the fact that nearly all European countries have a domestic-violence law.

Dearth Of Infrastructure

Russia also lacks the infrastructure to support abused women. Activists note, for example, that there are only 40 state shelters for victims of domestic violence across Russia's vast territory.

"Let's say a man is beating a woman," says Mikhail Vinogradov, the director of the Center for Legal and Psychiatric Help in Extreme Situations. "She says I won't live with you any more. But he won't leave the apartment. This is a common problem. The woman can say, I'll leave myself. But where can she go? This is not just a purely psychological problem. It is also a social problem. Where can a woman go if she has no place to go?"

There have been scattered attempts to introduce domestic violence legislation in Russia, dating back to the 1990s, but each time it has ended in failure.

United Russia lawmaker Saliya Murzabayeva, who is backing the current effort, believes this stemmed from a lack of understanding of the issue.

"There probably is not enough awareness of this problem," she says. "And there are those who believe that the government should not interfere in family matters."

The question on many people's lips is whether things will be different this time: will Irina Kabanova's horrific killing be the event that shocks the system into action?

Andrei Sinelnikov, the ANNA Center's deputy director, will be watching closely.

"We really hope that [the bill] is going to be passed," he says. "We participated in the drafting of this law. It would simply be a very positive development if they pass it. It could save a lot of lives."

Tom Balmforth

Tom Balmforth covers Russia and other former Soviet republics.


This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Camel Anaturk from: Kurdistan
January 28, 2013 11:31
`If you live like russians do.....`,meanwhile Eugenia never complains when beaten by Jack black and blue!!!

by: American Troll
January 28, 2013 12:58
Hurting a woman or kid would earn a one-way trip to Kolyma if only Russian popular bigotry associated domestic violence with a certain hated and feared religion. Instead, more and more nominally Slavic/Orthodox women marry Muslims who work hard, don't drink, and want kids (all alien to today's Russian man). And yes, they hit women less than Russian men do, but that's not setting a very challenging goal.

Of course the bad news is, this fuels Russia's racist/sexist "identity" neurosis, taking it closer to its Fourth-Reich destiny of a Muslim Final Solution. But frankly that's been inevitable for at least a decade now, and The Troll's advice to Muslims, gays, "uppity" women, and all other pariahs remains the same: get out now. You won't be missed, and you're doomed if you stay. Go to America. Go to Holland even if you have to threaten to do what that guy did last week. Build rockets and go start a Mars colony. Go anywhere. Just go while you still can. You have about twenty years, tops, and probably less. And none of this "I'm not a believing Muslim, I'm just an atheist with the last name 'Khadzhimogamedov'" or whatever. That won't stop the bullets, dude. When they come, these people won't have clipboards and questionnaires. If I'm wrong and Russia looks like San Fran in twenty years, then hey, I'm wrong, and you can go back home. No one will be happier than I will be.
In Response

by: john from: canada
January 29, 2013 23:30
Certainly from the still-emerging Syrian crisis, it has become apparent how many thousands of Russian women have married Syrian men - presumably many of the men being Muslim.

However, especially in Russia's Far East and Pacific Territories, Russian women marrying Chinese men for similar reasons (work hard, don't drink, want family) seems to have been noticed and of course, the Chinese gender imbalance favouring males has made the value of Russian women even higher.

by: Sey from: World
January 28, 2013 16:15
It truly puzzles me how some Russians can consider defending women who've been abused by their coward husbands a thing of "liberal crazies", but somehow they seem OK about the sex-filled media, the high rate of alcoholism and drug-addiction, the fact Russia is probably the world's largest producer of pornography, and the fact other women sell themselves on the internet to rich Western men a thing of "liberal crazies".

I can assure you Russian media pumping the thirst of easy money and licentiousness to the young generations does more about destroying families than any law protecting women from abusive husbands.

by: john from: canada
January 29, 2013 23:44
ANNA Centre in Moscow appears to be doing important, vital work to address this crisis of gender violence in Russia.

Since the ANNA Centre is supported by foreign funding (the UK-based Sigrid Rausing Trust -, one wonders if it might be prejudiced by being labled as "foreign agent" according to those Putinist Duma laws seeking to harass such internationally-supported NGOs.

No idle inquiry because if Russian men have heretofore enjoyed impunity for their gender aggression, and the foreign-funded "do-gooders" such as ANNA Centre intercede to mitigate such violence, some Duma дураки might think the ANNA Centre chain should be pulled to let Russian women fend for themselves in a "natural order of things".

by: Ben
February 01, 2013 18:34
Russian domestic violence is absolutly strange and incomprehesible phenomenon in comparison with the peace-making humanistic international and interior state`s politics for the last 4 senturies.

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