In a move which no doubt pleased misogynists everywhere, Russian lawmakers recently softened laws regarding domestic violence, and surprise surprise, this has already led to a surge in cases of domestic violence, including the doubling of such cases in one Russian city. At a point where much of the focus is on Trump and his government, we mustn’t forget what is going on elsewhere in the world, and so it’s only right that this law gets put under the spotlight.
It is said that one in three women in Russia will be victims of physical abuse at the hands of a partner, and there is a saying that ‘if he beats you he loves you‘ – quite how you can show love for someone by inflicting injury upon them is beyond me, and hopefully beyond any reasonable human being.
This sort of thing is not actually a surprise when one considers other attitudes in Russia. Last year, there were plans to introduce a new law, building on one passed in 2013, that would make public displays of affection between same-sex couples illegal. Racism is a serious and on-going problem in Russia. It is scary that a country which remains powerful in world affairs (despite its comparative weakening post-Cold War) promotes what is more or less state-sanctioned misogyny, racism and bigotry.
So what do to about it? The first key move is to highlight these problems. Drag them out into the open. Talk about them. In Russia this might be dangerous, and I don’t want to encourage anyone to take risks that put their safety in jeopardy, but we need to let people in Russia who oppose these draconian measures know they aren’t alone.