#IDidNotWantToDie The Petition to Criminalize Domestic Violence in Russia
The decriminalization of domestic violence in 2017 and the unfair treatment of women in court cases, have sparked many protests on social media. People are demanding the adoption of the law at the time of publication was signed by almost half a million people. It was the network activity of bloggers, last summer, that launched a new round of discussion. The topic of violence is now, one of the most discussed topics in the Russian ‘blogosphere’.
The petition against domestic violence was launched by a blogger: Alexandra Mitroshina. She explained that the flash mob #IDidNotWantToDie is dedicated to women who were killed as a result of domestic violence,and to those who are currently imprisoned for killing a partner in self- defense against domestic violence. Mitroshina commented that “Russia needs a federal law on the prevention of violence and assistance to victims of it, which would protect women and would not force them to go to the extreme measure of selfdefense. ” Within an hour, more than a hundred people shared their story using the hashtag IDidNotWantToDie.
The flash mob was supported by users of social networks and other bloggers, some of them accompanied the hashtag with their photos with traces of beatings and #IDidNotWantToDie on their faces. Alyona Popova, lawyer and co-author of the bill on the prevention of domestic violence, took part in the action. Popova expatiated that the bill will provide an introduction of protective orders that would shield the victim and also her relatives. It should implement a crime accounting system and initiate the creation of crisis centers for victims.
Previously, she explained “Duma has been talking about the bill for more than five years,” however, “conservatives such as Senator Elena Mizulina and State Duma deputy Tamara Pletneva are opposed to the introduction of the bill”.
In Russia, the discussion around domestic violence arose after the law of decriminalization of beatings came into force in January 2017, according to which domestic violence in the family are considered an administrative offense and not a crime. The controversy has intensified again in connection with the case of the Khachaturian sisters who are facing up to 20 years in prison for allegedly conspiring to kill their father.The supporters of the sisters insist that their father sexually abused them for several years and they went to the necessary means of self-defense.
The new wave for the demand of a domestic violence law was initiated after the case of Shema Timagova, who suffered from domestic violence. She became disabled after her ex-husband hit her on the head with an ax. Although he was sentenced to nine months in prison, the court commented that the attack was provoked by Timagova. Mitroshina an other activists claim that the perpetrators of violence have become less afraid of criminal liability. They argue that the absence of a prison sentence in cases of domestic violence encourages abuse. Note that in 2018, the number of victim statements have halved. According to activists it is a sign that women now choose to endure the abuse since they understand that they will not be heard in court.
The social media storm has caught the attention of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), which recognized that Russia had violated the applicant’s right to protection from discrimination and violence. In particular, it was recommended to criminalize domestic violence, introduce judicial protection orders and develop effective mechanisms to combat stereotypes, customs and practices that justify domestic violence. Despite the protests, the 2019 session in Duma, has been trying to avoid the bill and instead the conservatives suggested to soften it by taking out sexual, psychological and economic assault. This means that forced sexual relations in marriage will not count as rape. The raging opposition to such bill is currently seen all across social media.