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Russia's Justice Ministry says claims about domestic violence are exaggerated, and men are the real discrimination victims

Source: Kommersant

Russia’s Justice Ministry has formally responded to questions from the European Court of Human Rights about domestic violence connected to lawsuits filed by four Russian women. The court asked Russian officials if they acknowledge the seriousness and scale of domestic violence and discrimination against women in Russia.

In the Justice Ministry’s response, as reported by the newspaper Kommersant, Deputy Minister Mikhail Galpernin said claims about the scale of the problem in Russia are “quite exaggerated,” calling the complaints filed with the ECHR an attempt “to undermine the legal mechanisms already codified in Russia, as well as the government’s efforts to improve the situation.”

In his written response, Galpernin reached the following conclusion: “Even if we assume that the majority of persons subjected to domestic violence in Russia are in fact women (though there is no evidence to support this statement), it is logical to assume that male victims suffer more from discrimination in such cases. They are in the minority and they are not expected to request protection from abuse at the hands of a family member, especially if inflicted by a member of the opposite sex.”

Russian lawmakers are currently drafting legislation that would introduce a formal concept of domestic violence, including statutes on harassment and restraining orders. The initiative’s co-authors are expected to submit their bill to the State Duma before the end of the year. Women's rights activists lobbying for the legislation have reportedly received threats on social media.

In 2017, the Russian government decriminalized first-offense domestic violence (defined as the beating of a relative), supposedly to correct what was seen as discrepancy between punishment for violence in the home and beatings on the street (as the latter were considered a misdemeanor). 

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