Domestic violence: Russian women trapped by the containment

A day at the end of April, the companion of Ineta Akhtiamova is entered in a rage : and then after insulting her, he hit her and told her to leave their small Moscow apartment, where the couple lived in confinement for a month.

“I’m part of, I couldn’t stand all of this “, told AFP Ms. Akhtiamova, 50 years, a singer by profession, unemployment due to temporary closures due to the outbreak of coronavirus.

Since the beginning of the containment measures to stem the pandemic, associations have been reported across the world an increase in cases of domestic violence.

In Russia, the phenomenon is accentuated by the inaction of the authorities and of the legal gaps in the protection of women against this scourge.

Ineta Akhtiamova says she was cooking when her companion is away, and it was not for the first time.

“It is not good if I am silent. It is not good if I’m talking about. It is not good if I make the soup. It is not good if I’m doing potatoes “, lists Mrs. Akhtiamova, to describe the relationship with her partner in the containment.

When this man, with whom she lives since a year and a half, the beat, it could go as friends. But for fear of the virus, they are now reluctant to do so.

Two homes for the women also refused to welcome him because of the containment measures put in place at the end of march in Moscow.

The association of “Kitej” was finally helped her to find refuge in a hotel in the east of the Russian capital, and pays for its meals.

Suffer in silence

“The situation is worse here because there is no law,” explains Marina Pisklakova-Parker, a women’s rights activist in russia.

In 2017, president Vladimir Putin has signed a law decriminalizing some forms of domestic violence. Supported by the Russian Church, the text has reduced the arsenal of justice available to the victims.

The penalties for violence committed in the family circle increased from two years imprisonment to fines, except in cases of serious violence or recidivism.

According to the associations, these legal inadequacies, including the absence of orders of removal, will leave the Russian women without defence. These latter also suffer from the low number of shelters and the indifference of the police.

Each year, approximately 16.5 million women are victims of domestic violence in Russia, according to figures drawn up by activists before the outbreak.

Between February and the end of April, Marina Pisklakova-Parker said that his association, ANNA, has received 30 percent more calls via its emergency number.

Last month, several activists have called on the government to adopt emergency measures, including open shelters, and to launch an awareness campaign against domestic violence.

But their appeal remained a dead letter.

The Russian ministry of Interior said in may that there was no evidence of an increase in domestic violence during the confinement. Conversely, he argued that they had dropped 9% in April, compared to last year.

The worst to come

Aliona Sadikova, head of the association Kitej, claims to have received more than 400 requests for assistance since the beginning of the confinement. Most of the victims say that the police has not helped.

Before the pandemic, the women could leave, find a job and send their children to school. But today, they are forced to adopt another strategy, according to Aliona Sadikova : wait and suffer in silence.

“The economic prospects of the country are not clear, therefore many have decided to wait until the end,” she laments.

Marina Pisklakova-Parker fears that the worst is yet to come.

“What we see is only the beginning,” she says, noting that many victims cannot call for help because they are under the close supervision of their partners.

A lot of women and their abusive spouses are at risk of losing their job because of the economic crisis caused by the coronavirus, which is going to enhance the tensions, fears the activist.

“When the containment is completed, we will see aftershocks and waves of violence in the family”, said she. “It is therefore very important to look after the most of the problem right now “.

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