Domestic Violence in Russia
According to Amnesty International, “every hour a women in the Russian Federation dies at the hand of a relative, her partner or former partner”. Although the expression “domestic violence” is used by [Russian] women’s organisations and others, it “has not found its way into the legal codes of the Russian Federation”. The scale of domestic violence is vast but there is poor support and protection from the law enforcement agencies.
Whilst in theory the law allows for the prosecution of abusers, victims often face prosecutors and judges with little to no awareness or training on violence in the family. Only a small percentage of cases make it to court and the majority of those cases are dismissed on the grounds of "amicable reconciliation". By opting for reconciliation, the perpetrator avoids having to provide compensation, or undergo any reform programmes for the treatment of drug and alcohol abuse; moreover, no action is taken in terms of restraining orders. Because of the tremendous shortage of housing, many women continue to live with their abusers.
The Crisis Centre Ekaterina
Ekaterina is a crisis centre for women and children suffering violence within the family operating in the Sverlovsk region of Russia. The crisis centre opened in 1998 with the support of four dedicated women who were passionate about developing services to support vulnerable women. The centre has grown over the years and as a result spearheaded the citywide programme to fight family violence in the city of Ekaterinburg.
The centre's specialists provide free individual consultations to women suffering from domestic violence and/or human trafficking. They operate a telephone hotline, organize support groups and individual help for women, and when necessary provide legal assistance for women who are prosecuting or suing perpetrators of domestic violence. The centre regularly works with the regional, state wide, and local media to raise public awareness about domestic violence and human trafficking.
The Haven has been working with the Crisis Centre Ekaterina since 1997. The Haven Wolverhampton supports Ekaterina through funded projects and capacity building in order to help the centre increase its status and enable its voice to be heard when strategies and policies concerning human rights of women and children experiencing domestic violence are developed in Russia.
The Haven Wolverhampton worked with "Ekaterina" and BE Training UK to create a network of social partnerships between NGOs, local authorities, police and business communities, in order to address the problem of domestic violence. The project was funded by the British Know How Fund, and as a result, NGO staff and volunteers received training in participation and development, capacity building, networking, social research, campaigning and lobbying to improve the effectiveness of "Ekaterina" in advising, representing and promoting issues of domestic violence on local, national and regional levels.
The Haven Wolverhampton was involved in "Strengthening the Russian Association of Crisis Centres (RACC)" project, commissioned by Women's Aid and funded through the Department for International Development (DfID), UK. The purpose of the project was to improve the quality of life of women experiencing domestic or sexual violence. An educational programme on domestic violence was developed and delivered to the Russian police. By developing active links between law enforcement agencies, government departments and the crisis centres in pilot regions, the project aimed to provide women with access to more appropriate services. One of the achievements of this project was the signing of an agreement between Ekaterinburg's police force and "Ekaterina" - a unique example in Russia!
Funding from The Big Lottery Fund allowed The Haven Wolverhampton and Ekaterina to deliver the joint project ‘Life Without Fear’ which aimed to influence the attitude, perception and opinion of the general public and professionals (Justices of the Peace, Lawyers and Police Officers) in responding to domestic violence cases. An essential element of this project focused on educating Justices of the Peace and other stakeholders to understand the issues relating to domestic violence. The project aimed to provide support to women in taking forward their domestic violence cases to court and that the cases progress as quickly as possible to hearing. During the lifetime of the project a number of professionals were trained and over 19,000 women were able to process their cases through the Russian Criminal Justice System. As a result of the project :
- The number of domestic violence cases taken to court has risen from approximately 14,000 to over 20,000.
- Less 'private charge' (domestic violence) cases are closed - decrease from 70% in 2005 to 49.5% of all in 2008
- Since 2004 the number of Domestic Violence perpetrators found guilty has risen from just under 1000 to over 4000.
Project funders the Big Lottery Fund (BLF) stated that they were satisfied with the progress of the project and commented that “it demonstrated the strong success that the project is achieving” Sarah Nash (Grants Officer, BLF ). Research for the project was supported by the Child and Woman Abuse Studies Unit of London Metropolitan University. Download the project report compiled by CWASU (2009).
Life Without Fear Project partners the Child and Women Abuse Studies Unit at London Metropolitan University said “The project has been very successful. It built on previous achievements and has advanced these systematically. Most notable are the expansion of the crisis centre coalition and multi-agency work with law enforcement and the courts, the compilation of regional statistics and the collection of women‘s accounts, and the extensive training for professionals.”
To download a copy of the ‘Life without Fear’ project evaluation report please click here.
We continue to support "Ekaterina", whose status has increased significantly over the years, and our Russian colleagues have commented that they have 'observed a revolution in understanding of the problem [of violence against women]'.
In October 2012 a delegation from Russia, which consisted of Health professionals and representatives from the Crisis Centre for Women and Children “Ekaterina”, Ekaterinburg, visited the UK. The aim of the visit was to exchange knowledge and experience of addressing domestic and sexual violence through the Health system between professionals from Russia and the UK.
- Ludmila Ermakova - Director of the Crisis Centre for Women and Children “Ekaterina”
- Andrey Zburzhinskiy, Head of A&E department of the Hospital No 24, Ekaterinburg, Russia
- Dmitry Kondrashov - Head Doctor at the Centre for Forensic Expertise, Ekaterinburg, RUssia
- Salimova Irina - Head Doctor of the Women’s Gynecological Centre No 10, Ekaterinburg
- Ermakova Ekaterina - Manager of the Health Programme at the Crisis Centre “Ekaterina”, Doctor of Medical Science
The Domestic Violence training programme was delivered by The Haven and activities were facilitated to exchange knowledge between Health professionals. We would like to thank the Crisis Point Walsall, Walsall PCT and Walsall Manor Hospital and other stakeholders who made the knowledge exchange possible.
This project was supported by the British Embassy in Ekaterinburg, Russia and is in line with the Government Foreign Policy Priorities of promoting Britain’s enlightened national interest in a changing world. We hope that the knowledge exchange will facilitate better services for victims experiencing domestic and sexual violence in Russia.