Russia’s State Duma has finally decided what to do with draft legislation on gender equality introduced 15 years ago: toss it in the garbage. On Wednesday, State Duma Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin said the initiative had “grown obsolete” since he helped draft it in 2003, when he was just an ordinary deputy. He isn't ruling out another initiative on gender equality, however, saying that lawmakers would study the need for a new analogous law that reflects the country’s modern realities.
The legislation trashed on Wednesday would have strengthened equal rights between men and women in the labor force and introduced quotas on the number of women and men employed by the state. Amendments introduced in the bill’s second reading would have defined workplace harassment as unwanted sexual attention.
Currently, there's no article concerning harassment in either Russia’s Criminal Code or its Code of Administrative Offenses. Back in 2014, some lawmakers tried to pass such legislation (imposing fines as high as 50,000 rubles, or $800), but the bill didn’t win the support of its State Duma oversight committee.
Russia’s Criminal Code does contain Article 133, which prohibits coercive actions of a sexual nature. This criminal code applies to cases where someone is forced to commit sexual acts by means of blackmail, threats, or other manipulations of their dependent status.
The undefined nature of harassment in Russia is partly why State Duma deputy Leonid Slutsky has managed to avoid any repercussions for mistreating multiple women journalists over the years.