Examine Russia on a policy-by-policy basis



I’ve written recently about Russia’s state in the world as well as the strain in the United States’ relations with them.

In fact an editorial I wrote a few weeks ago was about our need to view Russia outside of the nationalistic black and white we tend to stray 
toward.

My point was despite our political disagreements and our tendency toward a rivalry we need to approach Russia as we do other countries — on a policy-by-policy basis.

This isn’t to say that we should overlook the turbulence of Russian politics or mention the brutish nature of many of their laws, given Vladimir Putin’s presidency and the aggressive history of the Cold War.

So while legislating on violence isn’t that different from the violence present in Russian affairs, a bill currently up for debate by Russian lawmakers is particularly egregious.

Backed by Russia’s religious right, this bill is in its second reading, and is all-but guaranteed to go to Putin for approval.

The sponsor of the law, Yelena B. Mizulina is quoted by the New York Times as having said, “In the traditional Russian family culture, relations between fathers and sons are built upon the authority of parents’ power, mutual love and personal indispensability as the basis for children’s upbringing,”

Reigning back current domestic violence laws (which aren’t stringent enough in the first place), this bill would allow husbands to abuse their wives once a year with penalties of only $500, and it would only make husbands truly accountable in the case of broken bones.

This sort of accountability rollback for abusers is an outrage on a basic humanitarian level.

No one deserves to be beaten into submission. However, this problem goes further than this horrific bill.

Russia has a culture of domestic violence far worse than in the U.S. because abuse is viewed so poorly in the U.S., whereas in Russia it’s considered an extension of masculine authority over the household.

This obviously isn’t true for everyone, but it is true enough that an estimated 14,000 Russian women die every year from domestic violence as opposed to only 4,000 in the United States, which has double the population.

It’s a problem for a variety of reasons, but the main two are mix of alcoholism and a culture of enabling. Though the stereotype of the Russian drinking vodka can be insensitive, there’s actually a legitimate basis for this prejudice.

About 25 percent of Russian men die due to alcohol-related problems, such as cirrhosis, before the age of 55 , and as is obvious, drunkenness and abuse go hand in hand

However, the worst part isn’t the rampant 
alcoholism.

It’s actually the cultural attitudes that much of the population has toward domestic violence.

This is apparent in the popular Russian proverb “If he beats you, it means he loves you.”

Now, that’s an abhorrent sentiment but it’s one that’s believed by a large segment of the population and particularly by the religious orthodoxy.

It’s amidst this dangerous mixing of religion and alcohol that abuse becomes such a problem, and it’s one that isn’t helped by legislative 
accommodation.

So while we need to be careful not to vilify Russia political system, despite consistent opposition to the U.S., they’re not evil, simply self 
interested.

However when it comes to laws like this, accommodating, and legally enabling a culture of violence towards women, it’s critical that we’re vocal in our 
opposition.

Domestic violence is wrong, regardless of what culture you live in, or what patriarchal laws are on the books.

We need to take our freedom to speak, and hold Russian lawmakers 
accountable.

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