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‘Women from Vulnerable Groups are Often Denied the Opportunity to Receive Help from the Government’

In Russia a project has been developed for the federal law ‘On the Prevention of Family-Domestic Violence’. The necessity to adopt this law is due…

In Russia a project has been developed for the federal law ‘On the Prevention of Family-Domestic Violence’. The necessity to adopt this law is due to the lack of a systematic approach to this issue in Russia.
In our country 40% of all serious violent crimes are committed within the family. In 2013 alone 9,100 women were killed by criminal attacks and 11,300 women were seriously injured.
Global experience in the field of combatting domestic violence has shown that specific laws to prevent violence in the family are more effective than separate articles in the criminal, civil, and administrative laws.
Women from vulnerable groups – drug dependant, HIV-infected, women involved in prostitution, – are also subject to violence at home. However if ‘regular’ women can at least receive a minimal amount of assistance from the government, women from vulnerable groups are often denied this opportunity.
Women’s rights lawyer and member of the project working group for the law ‘On the Prevention of Family-Domestic Violence’, Mari Davtyan, shared her observations on this issue:
“Drug dependant people, in general, do not seek out help. This group of people are extremely criminalized and any interaction with the police can end badly for them. Unfortunately the system is such that today it’s almost impossible for drug dependant people to defend their rights.
More often than not domestic violence starts with light injuries and then one must report the injury, go to the court, etc. In doing all this it’s best to be accompanied by a competent lawyer. Yes, and even in that case, of the cases that are brought to the police, only 3% go to court in the end. Usually the victim goes to the police and after some time receives a refusal to initiate criminal proceedings and then goes on to civil court. And then imagine that a drug dependant person seeks out the police. He (or she) can simply be ‘locked up’ for drug use as per administrative articles.
Women from vulnerable groups – drug dependent, HIV-infected, women involved in prostitution – are not yet written into the project for the law. But we have discussed this issue and we will continue to do so. Currently the project’s text takes into account that all victims of domestic violence must be provided with assistance free of any discrimination for any any reason”.
Photograph: Free Radio (Radio Svobody).

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