Domestic violence in the USA and post-Soviet countries: how the authorities react
On November 25, the world celebrates International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. According to the World Health Organization, every third woman in the world is subjected to physical or sexual abuse. In most cases, the victim lives under one roof with the rapist. Writes about this "Present Tense".
Most of the women who have experienced violence at least once in their lives live in Turkey - 42%. In second place is the United States (36%). Among European countries, the highest rate in France is 26%. Next is Russia.
Since 2017 in Russia, domestic violence has not been considered criminal. It moved from the category of crimes to the category of offenses. In addition, now the injured party itself must prove the charge in court. That is, a woman must prove that she was indeed subjected to violence.
Every 40 minutes, one woman dies in Russia at the hands of her husband, lover, relative in Russia - this is UN data.
"Run away from life"
“The soup is not salty enough. And a pot of soup could end up on my head. One day he threw a drill at me, and the drill stuck in the door. And at that moment my daughter came in - and the drill turned out to be a little higher than her head, ”says Russian woman Natalya Radievskaya.
When her husband nearly killed her daughter, she decided that she would no longer tolerate bullying. After I changed the locks in the apartment, I realized that it was not only she who needed help in realizing that it was not normal to tolerate humiliation. After that, Natalia created a group on Facebook - so that women can help each other.
“After I pressed the Create Group button and made a picture, it began to grow at a catastrophic rate. I used to think that there were several of us such idiots, stupid, who could not leave and endured. But there are 10 thousand people in the group, and this happens with almost every third, ”she says.
Now this group in the social network is a modern helpline. Women help each other find lawyers, collect money for rental housing, if there is no option to stay at home, and invite volunteer psychologists to the group.
On the subject: Violence and pain in American nursing homes
“Not all women can run away - some run away from life. Usually some kind of small post appears, like “Tell me you have to live”. The administrative staff gives a command - they find the psychologist who is online now, who starts interacting with this person, asking what is happening, what kind of help is needed, ”continues Radievskaya.
This community brought together Russian-speaking victims of domestic violence from different countries. Olga from Berlin describes how the police in Germany reacted to the first phone call about the beating: “They entered, there were six of them. They immediately began to ask what had happened. It is in the right of the German police to expel the rapist from the apartment with a ban on approaching 50 meters. ”
And here is the experience of communicating with Russian policemen Natalya Radievskaya: “They will come and laugh:“ Why does your woman get away, educate better! ” They have as male solidarity: “What did the bitch bring you, creature? Well, you come there, you explain to her. "
Five lawyers, a psychologist and a journalist have been asking for a law on domestic violence in Russia for a year now: the initiative group is using its own money launched the site. Among them, there are also survivors of violence. They asked a hundred deputies to submit the law to the State Duma for consideration, but no one did. The state in Russia is trying not to notice the problem of domestic violence, says Tatyana Orlova, co-founder of the site, a former psychologist at the State Crisis Center for Women.
“If there is no civic initiative, then the victims of violence are completely defenseless in the situation when they are trying to seek help. And this initiative cannot come from the top, because people who experience violence are more comfortable than equal free citizens who express their opinions. Abused survivors are more likely to agree with what is being done to them, ”she notes.
Now in Russia there are about 150 private crisis centers for women survivors of violence. State, according to the Ministry of Labor, only a little more than 20 for the whole country.
In Ukraine, toughen punishment
According to the UN, annually more than a million Ukrainians face domestic violence. But unlike Russia, where the beatings were decriminalized, in Ukraine, on the contrary, toughened the punishment for domestic violence.
In addition, the law obliges the state to create national hotlines for prompt consultations. It protects people living in unregistered relationships because previously the law only protected officially registered spouses. Now the law recognizes not only physical actions as violence, but also moral and economic pressure. The aggressors must now go through a "remedial program".
And from January 2019 of the year in Ukraine criminal liability will be provided for any violent action.
"The face could not stand the beatings and cracked"
But despite this, cases of domestic violence in Ukraine are not uncommon, as well as an inadequate response from the security forces. “He locked me in my apartment and started beating me. He drowned me, jumped on me, stomped on me, hit me in the face. He beat me with his hands, feet, and fists. The face could not stand the beatings and just cracked, the blood did not stop for a very long time, ”says Oksana, a victim of domestic violence from Ukraine.
According to her, this went on for two weeks in front of three small children. “They cried all the time, asked:“ Don't touch mom. ” Then he put my knife and rope on the table and said: “Choose: either you hang yourself, or open your veins, or jump from the balcony,” she says.
Oksana and her children managed to escape. She wrote a statement to the police, but so far the case has not been opened. “For two weeks after I wrote the statement, even the investigator never called me. So far, they haven't done anything, ”she notes.
Marina Legenka, a lawyer with the human rights organization La Strada-Ukraine, notes that despite the law on the prevention of violence, problems remain. “There are a number of shortcomings both at the first stage, when the police work, and already at court decisions. A lot of protocols go to court with some errors and flaws, then the term for bringing the person to administrative responsibility passes, and thus the person does not bear any responsibility for what he has done, ”emphasizes Lehenka.
Nowadays, criminal liability has been introduced for domestic violence in Ukraine, the punishment for a crime can be a real term - up to two years in prison.
Latvia: most victims do not state
In Latvia, more than half of the victims do not report domestic violence to the police. Moreover, every third woman in the country at least once in her life faced this problem.
Inguna got married at the age of 19, problems with her husband began almost immediately. At first there were small scandals, but the situation began to deteriorate. “It all started with slaps and insults,” she says. Then there were beatings, constant screams and scenes of jealousy.
“I had two bags and a baby on each side. I was very nervous. I made the decision to leave in half an hour. When we left the apartment, my daughter said: “Mom, promise that we will never come back here,” continues Inguna.
She moved to another city, found a job, went to university and now she is raising two children. Inguna and her children never met her ex-husband again.
For a long time Inessa did not dare to get away from domestic violence. But in the end, she ran away from her husband as she became afraid for her life. “Last year I already wanted to leave, but I stayed. I ended up in the hospital. I had a black eye and my temples hurt, ”she says.
Inesse spent ten days at the hospital, and then immediately went to the crisis center. She never returned to her husband.
Such stories are faced every day in the Latvian crisis center for women “Marta”. According to official statistics, every third woman in Latvia has been a victim of domestic violence at least once in her life. “Our society believes that if there is domestic violence, there is no need to intervene, that it is a private matter,” says the head of the crisis center Iluta Lace.
Psychologists, lawyers and social workers work with women in the crisis center. If necessary, victims are provided with temporary shelter.
“It is important for us that the offender is ultimately punished, now, alas, this is not always the case. We achieved the adoption of a law that in the event of domestic violence, it is the abuser who must leave, not the victim to look for a new home. But in reality, we have to make sure that the police really keep the aggressors at a distance, ”says Lace.
USA: “No one should do what he does not want”
In the United States, domestic violence is completely different.
“I am attending free English courses at the Cambridge Public Library: this is spoken English for those who need it. Such a help for immigrants who want to improve their language, ”says Alexandra, Ukrainian, who moved from Russia to the USA.
“Our teacher, Deb, is an energetic 70-year-old American and a retired schoolteacher. She is already retired and teaches language as a volunteer at the local library. I don’t know what bonuses she has from this job, but it’s clear that the process gives her a lot of pleasure: she constantly smiles, jokes and seems to be having a good time, ”Alexandra continues her story.
“In the last lesson we discussed an unremarkable topic:“ who doesn't like what and why ”. When it came to me, I told the class that I hated ironing. Deb laughed heartily, admitting that she also does not really like to do it, - says Alexandra. - “You know,” said Deb, “I buy only those things that do not require the intervention of an iron,” and she winked at me. I understand, however, my husband’s shirts without an iron feel completely unwell. And although I iron them only 5 pieces a week, but this process pretty much pisses me off. ”
“Deb didn’t comment on my answer anymore, but called me after the end of the class. She came up to me and handed me a business card: “Here is the address and phone number of the social service. They deal with the problems of domestic violence, you can talk to them ”. I was taken aback and did not understand why she was telling me this. Deb took my palms in hers and, looking into my eyes, said: “Alex, no one should do what they really don't want,” Alexandra recalls.
“Deb suggested that I was subjected to domestic violence and my husband was the likely tyrant, who forced me (by beatings, blackmail or threats) to do what I did not want. And although there was a mutual agreement in my family and a simple division of labor: I take on some questions (and the unloved shirts just get to me), and my husband closes others, the situation could be exactly as Deb suggested, ”says girl.
“That day I witnessed the work of the American system for the prevention of domestic violence in the family. The largest number of people pass through educational and medical institutions, so doctors and teachers are trained to recognize potential victims of domestic terror and conduct the initial stage of educational work with them, ”the girl says. “If at that moment I really needed help, I could go (or call) to the support center right from the library and get advice on my issue.”
“A huge plus of all this work is that they not only fight the consequences, but also work proactively (to prevent acts of violence from happening). And if in our country domestic violence in the family is often regarded only as an administrative violation, which is equated to a drunken brawl in a park, then in the States it is a criminal offense, and tyrants really go to jail not only for committed acts, but also for attempts, and also for moral and psychological pressure and coercion, ”says Alexandra.
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