Domestic battery surges in Russia after decriminalisation

Moscow relaxed laws that jailed domestic violence perpetrators, and reported cases of abuse have skyrocketed since.

by Nikolay Korzhov

Moscow - The State Duma signed a bill early last year to decriminalise some forms of domestic abuse in Russia - a move condemned by critics as the sanctioning of violence.

According to the new amendments, first-time offenders would be fined instead of being charged and tried in a court of law.

While the move was denounced by many, Russian legislators stood by their decision citing the need to preserve traditional and conservative values - where what happens within the family stays there.

Alyona Zolototrubova, a solemn, prematurely aged woman in her early 30s, works as a hotel maid in a small town - which cannot be named to protect her security - hundreds of kilometres from Moscow.

She is a mother of four and until recently, had lived with her husband of more than 13 years. With a sombre expression, she describes him as "sadistic".

"He has always been. Perhaps it was child trauma. He served in [the war in] Chechnya, but I don't think that affected him as much. He was violent even towards his mother before the army," Zolototrubova says.

"I was young and stupid," she adds about getting married.

At the start of their marriage, everything was fine. However, her husband soon became extremely irritable and controlling. He didn't allow her to talk to her parents, and forced her to leave university. She was socially deprived and isolated when the physical aggression started, about the time Zolototrubova gave birth to her second child.

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