For 17 years Anna endured regular beatings from her husband and in 2003 when he lost his job due to alcoholism, the beatings became too severe and Anna decided to divorce her husband in 2003 after he threatened to set her on fire. A week after their divorce was finalized, she was forced to return to their flat with nowhere else to go. Her husband told her that he did not recognize the divorce and was going to have sex with her, when she refused, he doused her with inflammable liquid and tried to set her alight. Despite having witnesses come forth and a coat soaked in flammable fluids, the police did nothing because “he had not committed a crime.” She continued to live in the flat with her older son and returned home from work about 3 weeks later to find her husband and his brother drinking in the kitchen. She asked the men to leave the kitchen so she could start dinner and he attacked her with a pike. This time the incident was treated as an attempt on her life. A criminal case was opened and he was sentenced to one year in the gulag. He did not go immediately to the gulag, he again attacked her with a knife in the summer of 2004; police did little more than take him to their car and speak with him. In October of 2004 he attacked Anna again, along with one of her friends whom he injured. The two women blocked the door which he poured oil in front of and set it aflame. He was reportedly very drunk and the two women managed escaped alerting neighbors. He had to be chained to a railing while police were gathering the details of the incident. When this was brought to court, the judge threw out the arson charge stating “You are just trying to solve your family problems at our expense.” Her husband continues to receive sympathy from family and friends, citing that Anna didn’t take good enough care of her husband. This is a common story in Russia. Few shelters, no laws and cultural contingencies allow this kind of ‘institutionalized pathology’ to continue and lead to the death of an estimated 14,000 women every year. In this research, I will cover the historical and cultural contexts and socio-political inaction that has led to such a disconfirming culture for women and why women have accepted it as the norm. I will also explore what actions have been taken and how women can help themselves. (Amnesty, 2013) Russian women have faced an uphill battle with their right to a life free from domestic violence from as early as the 16th century. Domostroiwas the de facto manual on how to discipline your family;written in the 16th century, it served as a set of household rules until the fall of the last Czars in 1917. Legal practice and existing codes of conduct in society affirmed the right of husbands to beat their wives. In the 19th century, a number of writers raised concerns about the effects violence in the family had on the lives of women in the Russian Empire. However, the discussions remained theoretical.1Throughout the centuries, controlling one’s family through violence and abuse has remained a cultural norm. Russian women expect violence in the household. “If he beats you, means he loves you” is a common proverb in Russia which seems to drive home that point. Even throughout the ideological Cold War where men and women were touted as equal; beatings were still the norm- though this data is gathered from a great deal of anecdotal stories, one can still surmise that ritual beatings were commonplace in Soviet times. Today, the numbers gathered through sources like Amnesty International, Moscow State University and the state officiated data show a harrowing picture of 14,000 women murdered by their husbands each year.
Despite this grim fact of 14,000 women dying at the hands of their partners each year, there are still no laws defining or protecting women from their abusers. In courts and at home, domestic violence is viewed as a family issue which should be settled in the home. This attitude is hard pressed into the Russian...
Bibliography: Works Cited
Amnesty International, “Russian Federation: Nowhere to turn to – Violence against Women in the Family,” Amnesty International, London, 2005, pp
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