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Russia - Women

"Russian women made the best widows." After the Crimean War, the Great Purges, the Battle of Stalingrad, all the brave soldiers and civilians had given their lives for their country.

Sex discrimination is described as rampant in Russia, with many women forced out of work because of hostile work environments. Laws do not protect women on the job. Russian women are very image conscious and strive to have a “perfect look” 24/7. This cultural peculiarity drives the sales of beauty products.

Public services have been reduced, living standards have declined, and market engagement has increased. These changes have been accompanied by declining birth rates, and there has been a resurgence of political discourses and policies encouraging women to bear more children and raise them in nuclear families. At the same time, an increasing number of Russian women are taking important roles in the new economy, such as management and technology jobs in businesses. Work has enabled new life paths for these women that do not involve the traditional roles of marriage and motherhood.

In 2003 the government of Russia issued new regulations restricting the availability of legal abortions in response to the country's high abortion rate. Indeed, Russia's abortion rate was among the world's highest, although it is less than half of what it was little more than a decade ago. OVer the deacde, while the incidence of abortion was dropping, there was no change in the legal status of abortion. Rather, as modern contraceptives became available in the early 1990s, contraceptive use among Russian women increased sharply. It is ironic that Russian policymakers leaped to a legal fix to reduce the abortion rate, considering that large numbers of Russian women had already stopped relying on abortion for birth control and, instead, had begun practicing contraception.

Large scale mafia networks such as the Russian and Albanian syndicates that control about 60 percent of prostitution in Western Europe. These networks also traffic in drugs, but more recently have turned to trafficking in women because the profit margins are higher. Highly organized from the recruitment to the exploitation stages, these groups are well connected financially and politically and are typically cruel and brutal in doing business.

Mail order bride agencies exploit the blurred line between deception, trickery, and the voluntary attitudes of would-be brides. The term "Mail Order Bride" is a misnomer. No one in modern times has merely ordered himself a bride via the internet or catalog. The modern foreign bride industry is a product of the internet facilitating international communication. Male customers generally are from the United States, Canada, Western Europe, Australia and New Zealand. There are hundreds of marriage agencies specializing in Eastern European women. The largest are Anastasia, A Foreign Affair, European Connections, and the Angelika network of agencies.

The United States is the number one importer of mail order brides. One company charges men a modest sum for its catalog of Russian women and holds a “mixer” in Russia to which U.S. men travel; the company charges the women a substantial amount, often their life savings, to travel to the mixer, the catch being that there are many more women at the mixer than there are men. In traditional tours, a small number of men met hundreds of women in a group setting. Most of the ladies do not speak English or other Western European languages.

There have been many reasons advanced for the desire of the Russian woman to seek a husband abroad. Better economic conditions and the perceived better ability and predisposition of a western man to sustain a marriage and raise a family are often given as reasons by the women themselves. Western men who seek for brides in Eastern Europe do so for a variety of reasons, including beauty, higher educational standards, and the perceived higher interest of such women in family life. The popularity of internet dating attests to the fact that, in any population, there will always be a certain percentage of persons who for whatever reason believe they cannot find their soul mate where they live or through conventional channels.

Domestic violence is rooted in Russia’s history, dating back to tsarist Russia when wife-beating was seen as necessary. Men were expected to beat their wives on a regular basis to be considered a good husband. Some researchers, on the other hand, attribute the increased domestic violence to the high level of alcoholism in Russia.

Rape is illegal, and the law provides the same punishment for a relative, including the spouse, who commits rape as for a nonrelative. Rape victims may act as full legal parties in criminal cases brought against alleged assailants and may seek compensation as part of a court verdict without initiating a separate civil action. While members of the medical profession assisted assault survivors and sometimes helped identify an assault or rape case, doctors were often reluctant to provide testimony in court.

The penalty for rape is three to six years’ imprisonment for a single offender and four to 10 years if a group of persons commits the crime or the assailant had prior convictions for sexual assault. Violations are punishable by eight to 15 years in prison if the victim was between the ages of 14 and 18 and by 12 to 20 years in prison if the victim died or was under 14. According to NGOs many law enforcement personnel and prosecutors did not consider spousal or acquaintance rape a priority and did not encourage reporting or prosecuting such cases. NGOs reported that local police officers sometimes refused to respond to rape or domestic violence calls unless the victim’s life was directly threatened.

According to NGOs many women did not report rape or other violence, especially when committed by spouses, due to social stigma and the lack of government support.

Domestic violence remained a major problem. There is no significant domestic violence provision in the criminal code and no legal definition of domestic violence. The laws that address bodily harm are general in nature and do not permit police to initiate a criminal investigation unless the victim files a complaint. The burden of collecting evidence in such cases typically falls on the alleged victims. Federal law prohibits battery, assault, threats, and killing, but most acts of domestic violence did not fall within the jurisdiction of the Prosecutor’s Office. According to NGOs police were often unwilling to register complaints of domestic violence and frequently discouraged victims from submitting them.

In 2013, more than 9,000 women were reported to have been killed in incidents of domestic violence. In Russia, domestic violence results in the death of 14,000 women each year, or one every 40 minutes, according to a report issued in 2010 by the Anna Center for Domestic Violence, a non-governmental organization. The actual figures are even higher, according to the center, because police do not count women who were hospitalized and subsequently died from injuries sustained in domestic abuse.

The government does not gather comprehensive data on domestic violence, but 2013 statistics from the Ministry of Internal Affairs showed that, while women were the victims of 43 percent of all crimes, they were the victims of crimes committed in the home (63 percent), among family members (73 percent), and by a spouse (91 percent) at disproportionately high rates.

Data on domestic violence in Russia are obscure, but Interior Ministry statistics show that 40 percent of all violent crimes in Russia are committed in family surroundings. In a poll conducted in March in the Karelian republic, more than half the respondents indicated they had heard of recent cases or had personally been the victim of domestic violence. Respondents’ references to domestic violence included cases of physical (35 percent), psychological (37 percent), and sexual (3 percent) abuse. The similarly reported that a third of women throughout the country were subject to physical spousal violence.

The NGO Center for Women’s Support asserted that a majority of domestic violence cases filed with authorities were either dismissed on technical grounds or transferred to a reconciliation process conducted by a justice of the peace, whose focus was on preserving the family rather than punishing the perpetrator. Civil remedies for domestic violence include administrative fines and divorce. Physical harm, property, and family rights cases, such as divorce, asset division, and child custody, cannot be heard in the same case or the same court.

According to the ANNA Center, the government operated 23 women’s shelters across the country.

According to human rights groups, so-called honor killings of women in Chechnya, Dagestan, and elsewhere in the North Caucasus district continued. Human rights groups further reported that so-called honor killings were underreported and rarely prosecuted because of community collusion to cover up such crimes, although there were instances in which such killings led to convictions. According to Caucasian Knot, a man accused of strangling to death his 21-year-old daughter in 2013 because he believed that her communications with men had brought shame to the family, was convicted in April and sentenced to seven years in prison.

In some parts of the North Caucasus, women continued to face bride kidnapping, polygamy, forced marriage (including child marriage), legal discrimination, and enforced adherence to Islamic dress codes. The Heinrich Boell Foundation reported in May that husbands frequently controlled women by not allowing them access to the family budget and threatening to keep them from communicating with their friends and families.

There were cases in some parts of the North Caucasus where men, claiming that kidnapping brides was an ancient local tradition, reportedly abducted and raped young women, in some cases forcing them into marriage. Police in Dagestan claimed that many cases of women being abducted were in fact voluntary. NGOs reported that, while the overwhelming majority of bride kidnappings were not voluntary, women in the North Caucasus sometimes agreed to be abducted to avoid an arranged marriage, often to an older man or to a man with multiple wives.

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Page last modified: 05-03-2017 20:00:10 ZULU