A bill introduced by an ultra-conservative Russian lawmaker in August has been making its way through Russia’s court system, and on Tuesday Vladimir Putin signed it into law. The bill decriminalizes domestic violence within families: Per the Guardian, “Beatings of spouses or children that result in bruising or bleeding but not broken bones are punishable by 15 days in prison or a fine, if they do not happen more than once a year.” Before the bill passed, such abuse was punishable by up to two years in jail.
The bill’s proponents say it’s designed to limit the state’s interference in family matters. “The question is not whether it’s OK to hit or not. Of course it isn’t,” said Olga Batalina, one of the MPs who drafted the law. “The question is how to punish people and what you should punish them for.” But in a country where 40 percent of all violent crimes are committed within the family, others worry the bill sends the wrong message.
Alena Popova, an activist who spoke out against the bill, said the government should’ve simultaneously passed another bill that gives abuse victims certain protections. Instead, that bill is stalled and unlikely to make it through parliament. “Passing these amendments and not passing the other law is another sign that our society refuses to take this problem seriously,” she said.