Category Archives: sexism

EDITORIAL: Here Come the Russian Rapists

EDITORIAL

Here Come the Russian Rapists

Russia and its Real Men

Russians are fond of working themselves up in to a state of high outrage whenever they hear stories about Russians being abused in foreign lands (like the recent incident in which a Russian adoptee was made to drink hot sauce by his new mother, or the incident where a mother returned her adopted child to Russia).

But good luck getting Russians to manage as much as a yawn when they learn about shocking acts of abuse by Russians against foreigners — that is, if state-sponsored Russian media even report such incidents at all, which they usually do not.

Take for instance the brutal gang-rape of a young Malaysian student at Bellerbys College in London, where tuition is £30,000 ($50,000) a year.   The wolf pack of four Russian students who drugged and then attacked her over the course of more than two hours, filming the savage assault with a cell phone and “celebrating like footballers” as they mauled the helpless fellow student, showed “callous disregard for (the victim) as a human being and a callous disregard for her as anything other than an object” according to the judge who sentenced them to prison in Woolwich Crown Court.

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The Misery that is Russian Womanhood

Julia Ioffe, writing on Slate:

One evening in Moscow, Tanya (not her real name) found herself at a dinner table with a group of friends, most of them married couples. One of the men started to tell a story about the coda to a recent guys’ night out. He’d stumbled home the next morning to his wife and two children—a 2-year-old and an infant—to find that he’d forgotten his underwear. Everyone at the dinner table, including the man’s wife, laughed at the story: the hijinks!

Wandering spouses have become a common trope for the women of Moscow. “Men’s environment here pushes them towards cheating,” Tanya told me, adding that, these days, a boys’ night out in Russia often involves prostitutes. Tanya and her friends are young, educated, upper-middle-class Muscovites, but talk to any woman in Moscow, and, regardless of age, education, or income level, she’ll have a story of anything from petty infidelity to a parallel family that has existed for decades. Infidelity in Moscow has become “a way of life,” as another friend of mine put it—accepted and even expected.

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Brutal Sexism Continues in Putin’s Russia

Radio Free Europe reports:

It’s one of the most visible changes on Moscow’s streets. Twenty years ago, you could go weeks without seeing a single woman driver. Now it seems there’s a woman behind the wheel of every second car.

One of them is Lera Labzina, who’s been driving for two years and says that makes her “very, very happy.”

“Driving represents another step toward women’s independence,” she says.

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Frailty, thy name is Russian Woman!

There’s sick, and then there’s Russian sick.  Julia Ioffe, reporting on Slate:

A strange thing happened in late June, when the big Russian Internal Ministry bosses disclosed their earnings and those of their family members, thanks to President Dmitry Medvedev’s new anti-corruption measures. The surprise didn’t come from the men: The head-honcho cops were the fat cats everyone assumed them to be, declaring incomes that strangely exceeded that of the president. And the ranks of the obscure upper-middle management fittingly declared modest incomes, usually topping at out around $50,000. A Russian-made car here, a modest apartment there.

But the wifely half of the family disclosures was far more revelatory. There was, for example, the amazing financial statement of the spouse of Viktor Smirnov, the deputy director of the Russian Internal Ministry’s Center to Ensure Operation Performance to Combat Extremism. In 2009, a year in which the Russian economy struggled to get back on its feet after the financial crisis turned it virtually inside-out, Mrs. Smirnov made $500,000. She also owns two plots of land, each about 40 acres. She has shares in two apartments as well as in a housing complex, plus a Subaru Outback, an industrial truck, and a BMW 3-Series, which can retail for over $60,000. What does Mr. Smirnov own? One-quarter of one apartment.

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EDITORIAL: Russia, Nation of Pigs

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EDITORIAL

Russia, Nation of Pigs

Russian women who drive subway trains don’t dare dream of the day when they might be allowed to sue their employer for sexual harassment or gender discrimination in terms of their working conditions or pay.  That’s because in order to sue about such things you have to first be employed, and a Russian court ruled last week that women aren’t allowed to drive subway trains.  They are, the court said, genetically inferior to men and therefore to be excluded from such professions as might expose themselves or others to physical injury.

Russia is a nation of male chauvanist pigs and, as far as can be seen, it’s proud of it.

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Russian Society: As Sick as it Can Get?

As if the world needed any more reasons to stay as far away from Russia as humanly possible, the Teleraph reports that sexual harassment is now perfectly legal in Russia. In fact, the judges are encouraging it!

The unnamed executive, a 22-year-old from St Petersburg, had been hoping to become only the third woman in Russia’s history to bring a successful sexual harassment action against a male employer.

She alleged she had been locked out of her office after she refused to have intimate relations with her 47-year-old boss.

“He always demanded that female workers signalled to him with their eyes that they desperately wanted to be laid on the boardroom table as soon as he gave the word,” she earlier told the court. “I didn’t realise at first that he wasn’t speaking metaphorically.”

The judge said he threw out the case not through lack of evidence but because the employer had acted gallantly rather than criminally.

“If we had no sexual harassment we would have no children,” the judge ruled.

Since Soviet times, sexual harassment in Russia has become an accepted part of life in the office, work place and university lecture room.

According to a recent survey, 100 per cent of female professionals said they had been subjected to sexual harassment by their bosses, 32 per cent said they had had intercourse with them at least once and another seven per cent claimed to have been raped.

Eighty per cent of those who participated in the survey said they did not believe it possible to win promotion without engaging in sexual relations with their male superiors.

Women also report that it is common to be browbeaten into sex during job interviews, while female students regularly complain that university professors trade high marks for sexual favours.

Only two women have won sexual harassment cases since the collapse of the Soviet Union, one in 1993 and the other in 1997.

Human rights activists say that Russian women remain second-class citizens and are subjected to some of the highest levels of domestic abuse in the world.

Annals of Russian "Feminism"

Reuters reports:

Igor Volodin believes vodka is no more harmful than chocolate. He is proud to be the first Russian to produce the spirit in a special women’s version, designed to be sipped with salad after a workout in the gym.

Touted as a glamour product for upwardly mobile women in booming Russia, Damskaya or “Ladies” vodka worries doctors, who fear a fresh wave of female alcoholics in a country already suffering one of the world’s worst drink problems.

The Moscow Serbsky Institute for Social and Forensic Psychiatry says Russia has 2.5 million registered alcoholics, but adds the real figure is seven times higher — more than 10 percent of Russia’s population of 142 million. Yuri Sorokin, a psychologist running a Moscow rehabilitation centre for drug addicts and alcoholics, said 60 percent of those he treats for alcoholism are women, including the wives of Russian millionaires. “I believe that female alcoholism is a huge problem in Russia. I believe it is as huge and hidden as the underwater part of an iceberg,” he said.

Adverts for the new “Ladies” vodka show the elegant, violet-tinted bottle wearing a pleated white skirt which is blown upwards to reveal the label. The images confront commuters on Moscow’s metro, grab the eye on the street and leap from the pages of women’s magazines. “Between us, girls …” runs the slogan on the adverts, which tout the product as an ideal tipple for hearty hen parties. “Women need a drink of their own,” said Volodin, sitting next to an array of his “Ladies” vodkas, which comes in lime, vanilla and almond flavors, or just straight for cocktails. “In Moscow, there are pink taxis for ladies, there are light cigarettes,” he said. “But there was no vodka, and we asked ourselves: ‘Why?’ … More people suffer from diabetes in Russia than from alcoholism, but no one bans chocolate advertisements.”

Sales on Russia’s vodka market are estimated to be worth around $15 billion a year, with a total annual volume of some 2.2 billion liters, Volodin said. Annual market growth in value is seen at 15 percent, he said, thanks to rising incomes and higher sales of premium vodkas like “Ladies”.

Volodin heads the Deyros company, which has been selling strong spirits on the Russian market for more than 10 years. “Ladies”, launched in December, is produced at a distillery in Russia’s second city of St Petersburg and retails at around 300 roubles ($12.5) in upmarket shops in big cities. Volodin is targeting successful, well-educated, married women with money. “Of course, $12 per bottle is too expensive for a village woman,” Volodin said, forecasting March sales of “Ladies” at 115,000 bottles and putting the 2008 full-year figure at over 2 million. “But we can’t make bad vodka for women.” Volodin says his vodka is pure and free of by-products, like fusel oils, which can cause a heavy hangover. He says because of its mellow taste, it can be taken with salads and other light meals, even by those regularly working out in gyms.

Russia, buoyed by windfall revenues for oil, gas and metals exports, has enjoyed its biggest economic boom in a generation. Wages in the cash-laden economy have rocketed. But high salaries and growing consumption of expensive alcohol have not led to moderation in drinking, said psychologist Sorokin. The joblessness and despair of Russia’s wild capitalism of the 1990s have now been replaced by the psychological vacuum of the newly-rich, he said.

Olga, a woman in her 20s, was buying a bottle of “Ladies” in an expensive supermarket in Moscow for a party with her friends. “I saw the ad in the metro and decided to taste it,” she said. “I just loved the design.” Sorokin said he expected an influx of new patients in about six months. “When such strong marketing experts are involved, I will never be jobless,” he sighed.

Vladimir Putin is certainly correct to express outrage that any in the West would dare to think of Russia as being “a little bit savage.” The Times of London has more on the feminism front in enlightened, sophisticated Russia:

Blondes famously have more fun, but a jealous world has long joked about their intellectual limitations. Now blondes in Russia are fighting the bimbo image by forming their own political party. Organisers insist that the Party of Blondes will establish itself as Russia’s newest political force by recruiting 50,000 members within weeks. The blonde ambition, they say, is to challenge Dmitri Medvedev for the presidency of Russia at the next election in 2012. “The Party of Blondes is for blondes, those who love blondes, and those who are blonde inside,” general-secretary Marina Voloshinova told The Times. Confusingly, she is a brunette.

“I dyed my hair blonde once but it was so awful that I decided never to do it again. I just have to stay blonde inside,” she said. “Blonde is not just a hair colour, it’s in your brain and your heart. Blondes accept life in a more lively way, they really have more fun.”

The idea started as an internet community, the Club of Blonde Lovers, that evolved from a forum for jokes into a discussion about the many problems facing Russian women. “We decided to make it more serious and to form a political party. Blondes are very attractive and the Party of Blondes is a way to gain attention for issues facing all women,” said Ms Voloshinova, a 39-year-old economist. “We want to make it easier for women to start small businesses because that is where they can develop themselves, and children’s education is a major question. It is free on paper but everybody knows that you have to pay under the table to get your child into a good school.” She added: “We will try to have beautiful blondes as party representatives. Unfortunately, a lot of our beauties have left Russia and we have to work hard to make life more convenient for women so that they will stay and be beautiful here. Men will vote for a beautiful woman, but we have to convince them that she is not only beautiful but also clever and a good leader.”

The party launched three weeks ago and claims 5,000 members. It needs 50,000 plus branches in half of Russia’s regions to gain official registration. “We will be ready by May 31, which is the Day of Blondes,” Ms Voloshinova said. The party is seeking support from famous blonde Russians, such as Valentina Matviyenko, the governor of St Pertersburg, Maria Sharapova, the tennis star, and Ksenia Sobchak, the “It” girl. “They don’t have to become members, just sympathise with our ideas. To be a real political force we need to develop our own leaders, and there are a lot of talented women in the regions.” Non-blondes, including men, are also welcome. Indeed, the current leader of the nascent women’s party is a man, Sergei Kushnerov. “He founded the Blonder Lovers’ Club so he became our leader, but that may change when we are more organised. Anyway, he has dyed his hair blond,” said Ms Voloshinova. She insists that the Party of Blondes is not a joke and that it is serious about capturing the Kremlin in a country where ultra-nationalists and Communists ran in this month’s presidential election. Mr Medvedev may even have a fifth columnist in his camp – his wife Svetlana is blonde. “No other party in Russia represents women’s rights. We want to teach women to love themselves and to believe that they can be all that they want to be,” she said.

“We will have a blonde president and if we find a great woman leader who is not blonde, we will make her dye her hair. To become the President of Russia, every woman is willing to dye her hair.”

Sex in the Neo-Soviet City

Moscow Does not Believe in Tears tips La Russophobe to the following item from the features section of the Moscow Times:

Following last weekend’s violent attacks on gay rights protesters, Moscow’s largest club, B1 Maximum, will host a pop and rock event called “March of the Sexual Majority” on Wednesday. Its poster has the slogan “For the sake of life on Earth!” and shows a cartoon image of a man and woman holding hands, with a white circle marking the woman’s womb.

The event is organized by Alexei Kortnev, lead singer of the veteran rock band Neschastny Sluchai, which headlines the event, along with actors Mikhail Shirvindt and Igor Zolotovitsky. Among the other participants are Channel One presenter Valdis Pelsh, who is a former member of Neschastny Sluchai, the bands Khoronko Orchestra and Bi-2, and singer Irina Bogushevskaya.

Speaking by telephone on Wednesday, Kortnev said that the timing of the event just over a week after the gay rights protest in central Moscow was a “very sad coincidence” since the concert had been planned four months ago. “We are categorically against the violent putting down of the protest,” he said, calling it a “disgraceful punch-up.”

“I’m not against those people, we’re not against those people,” Kortnev said. “We are against the active popularization of homosexual values among young people.” Such popularization was growing very quickly, he said. “Primarily it’s on the stage and in pop music.”

He complained of “an erosion of the difference between men and girls” and “an assiduous denial of our sexual nature.”

The event will include games related to the topic, such as a contest in which audience members demonstrate their knowledge of how to use a condom correctly. The contest will be called “Stretch out the Pleasure,” Kortnev said, consulting television presenter Pelsh at the other end of the line.

To show that the organizers do not support the official reaction to the gay parade, plans for the concert include a sketch in which gay protesters beat up OMON riot police, Kortnev said.

The event did not receive state funding, Kortnev said, although he added that its aims fit well with President Vladimir Putin’s initiative to increase the birthrate. Tickets cost from 600 rubles ($23) to 4,000 rubles. The Russian Orthodox Church is not involved, he said, pointing out that “half the musicians taking part are atheists.”

The event’s poster had to be changed after a complaint from the Moscow city advertising committee, Kortnev said. It originally showed drawings of a man and a woman with a hint at sexual organs. “They asked us to put on pants, so we did,” the singer said laughing.

The idea of holding concerts to promote heterosexuality first came up about 10 years ago, Kortnev said, but it was only recently that the musicians revived it. They have lined up similar concerts in St. Petersburg, Nizhny Novgorod, Yekaterinburg and Novosibirsk. If the B1 Maximum concert goes well, the musicians plan to hold another event at the Malaya Sportivnaya Arena at Luzhniki stadium.

The venue that now holds B1 Maximum was the scene of a protest by Russian Orthodox activists in April 2006. The club, then known as La Guardia, was holding a gay night when protestors blocked the entrance shouting anti-gay slogans and holding icons.

Kortnev said he did not expect gay rights activists to picket the March of the Sexual Majority. “I don’t think that there is anything here that they could protest against.”

Russia’s Barbaric Abuse of Women Continues Apace

Writing in the Moscow Times Dr. Cesar Chelala, an international public health consultant and writer on human rights issues, exposes the horrifyingly bleak outlook for women in Russia:

Along with an avalanche of presents and office parties with endless rounds of toasts, International Women’s Day has also served as a catalyst for public discussion of women’s issues in the country. The problem of domestic violence, however, is unlikely to have much, if any place in the discussion. While the reticence to discuss it on a day meant to be a celebration is, perhaps, understandable, the degree to which the problem goes under-recognized and under-reported year round in the country is not.

Following the appearance of some frank discussion of the problem of violence against women in the 1990s, the topic has all but disappeared again. Amnesty International, in a 2005 report titled “Nowhere to turn to. Violence against women in the family,” called for renewed attention and pointed to the urgent need to adopt more effective policies for addressing the issue.

The numbers are frightening. Each year, more than 14,000 women are killed in acts of domestic violence, meaning that more than one woman dies in Russia at the hands of a relative, partner or former partner every hour. It is a crime common to all of the country’s regions and against women of all social classes and ethnic backgrounds.

Natalya Abubikirova, executive director of the Russian Association of Crisis Centers, drew a dramatic parallel to capture the scope of the problem: “The number of women dying every year at the hands of their husbands and partners in the Russian Federation is roughly equal to the total number of Soviet soldiers killed in the 10-year war in Afghanistan.”

According to a World Health Organization report on domestic violence, published in 2005, violence on the part of intimate partners is the most common physical threat women face worldwide. Globally, violence is as common a cause of death and disability for women of reproductive age as cancer. It is a greater threat to women’s health than traffic accidents and malaria put together. Although the ethical question is the most important element here, it is clear that domestic violence is also a serious public health issue.

Part of the silence associated with violence against women comes from women themselves. Cultural, economic, social and psychological factors, including shame and fear of retaliation, contribute to women’s reluctance to denounce these acts. In Russia, as in many other places, domestic violence is considered by many to be a strictly private matter. This makes it difficult to stir the government to action, including puttting pressure on law enforcement agencies to be more active in policing.

This extends to the courts, where women have little hope of gaining justice or protection. The Amnesty International report focused on this part of the problem, pointing out that violence of this type represents abuse of the victim’s human rights and that international law requires states to act to prevent these crimes.

In a study conducted by the Council for Women at Moscow State University, 70 percent of those women surveyed said they had been subjected to some form of violence — psychological, sexual, physical or economic — by their husbands. Ninety percent of respondents said they had either witnessed scenes of physical violence between their parents when they were children or had experienced this kind of violence in their own marriage.

As a public health issue, the exposure to this violence makes women more susceptible to depression, suicide and drug and alcohol abuse. Sexual assault by spouses and partners increases a woman’s risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases, including AIDS, and the number of unplanned pregnancies, and can cause serious gynecological problems, such as chronic pelvic pain.

It is clear that more has to be done to combat this epidemic of violence against women. Public attitudes about the problem have to change. Although there are some shelters, hotlines and crisis centers for female victims of violence in a number of cities, nothing close to an adequate, systematic approach to the problem exists.

At the legislative level, laws have to be enacted and enforced that criminalize all forms of violence against women, including marital rape. And not only victims, but also witnesses have to be protected against intimidation and further violence in the course of prosecuting these offenses.

The type of public education program that will be necessary to raise awareness about the problem, the kind of facilities necessary to provide real help to its victims and the legal protection that has to be put in place to stop domestic violence all depend on effective government action. Some sign of a commitment to action on the issue would be a fitting gift from the government to the country’s women on their day.

Russia’s Barbaric Abuse of Women Continues Apace

Writing in the Moscow Times Dr. Cesar Chelala, an international public health consultant and writer on human rights issues, exposes the horrifyingly bleak outlook for women in Russia:

Along with an avalanche of presents and office parties with endless rounds of toasts, International Women’s Day has also served as a catalyst for public discussion of women’s issues in the country. The problem of domestic violence, however, is unlikely to have much, if any place in the discussion. While the reticence to discuss it on a day meant to be a celebration is, perhaps, understandable, the degree to which the problem goes under-recognized and under-reported year round in the country is not.

Following the appearance of some frank discussion of the problem of violence against women in the 1990s, the topic has all but disappeared again. Amnesty International, in a 2005 report titled “Nowhere to turn to. Violence against women in the family,” called for renewed attention and pointed to the urgent need to adopt more effective policies for addressing the issue.

The numbers are frightening. Each year, more than 14,000 women are killed in acts of domestic violence, meaning that more than one woman dies in Russia at the hands of a relative, partner or former partner every hour. It is a crime common to all of the country’s regions and against women of all social classes and ethnic backgrounds.

Natalya Abubikirova, executive director of the Russian Association of Crisis Centers, drew a dramatic parallel to capture the scope of the problem: “The number of women dying every year at the hands of their husbands and partners in the Russian Federation is roughly equal to the total number of Soviet soldiers killed in the 10-year war in Afghanistan.”

According to a World Health Organization report on domestic violence, published in 2005, violence on the part of intimate partners is the most common physical threat women face worldwide. Globally, violence is as common a cause of death and disability for women of reproductive age as cancer. It is a greater threat to women’s health than traffic accidents and malaria put together. Although the ethical question is the most important element here, it is clear that domestic violence is also a serious public health issue.

Part of the silence associated with violence against women comes from women themselves. Cultural, economic, social and psychological factors, including shame and fear of retaliation, contribute to women’s reluctance to denounce these acts. In Russia, as in many other places, domestic violence is considered by many to be a strictly private matter. This makes it difficult to stir the government to action, including puttting pressure on law enforcement agencies to be more active in policing.

This extends to the courts, where women have little hope of gaining justice or protection. The Amnesty International report focused on this part of the problem, pointing out that violence of this type represents abuse of the victim’s human rights and that international law requires states to act to prevent these crimes.

In a study conducted by the Council for Women at Moscow State University, 70 percent of those women surveyed said they had been subjected to some form of violence — psychological, sexual, physical or economic — by their husbands. Ninety percent of respondents said they had either witnessed scenes of physical violence between their parents when they were children or had experienced this kind of violence in their own marriage.

As a public health issue, the exposure to this violence makes women more susceptible to depression, suicide and drug and alcohol abuse. Sexual assault by spouses and partners increases a woman’s risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases, including AIDS, and the number of unplanned pregnancies, and can cause serious gynecological problems, such as chronic pelvic pain.

It is clear that more has to be done to combat this epidemic of violence against women. Public attitudes about the problem have to change. Although there are some shelters, hotlines and crisis centers for female victims of violence in a number of cities, nothing close to an adequate, systematic approach to the problem exists.

At the legislative level, laws have to be enacted and enforced that criminalize all forms of violence against women, including marital rape. And not only victims, but also witnesses have to be protected against intimidation and further violence in the course of prosecuting these offenses.

The type of public education program that will be necessary to raise awareness about the problem, the kind of facilities necessary to provide real help to its victims and the legal protection that has to be put in place to stop domestic violence all depend on effective government action. Some sign of a commitment to action on the issue would be a fitting gift from the government to the country’s women on their day.

Russia’s Barbaric Abuse of Women Continues Apace

Writing in the Moscow Times Dr. Cesar Chelala, an international public health consultant and writer on human rights issues, exposes the horrifyingly bleak outlook for women in Russia:

Along with an avalanche of presents and office parties with endless rounds of toasts, International Women’s Day has also served as a catalyst for public discussion of women’s issues in the country. The problem of domestic violence, however, is unlikely to have much, if any place in the discussion. While the reticence to discuss it on a day meant to be a celebration is, perhaps, understandable, the degree to which the problem goes under-recognized and under-reported year round in the country is not.

Following the appearance of some frank discussion of the problem of violence against women in the 1990s, the topic has all but disappeared again. Amnesty International, in a 2005 report titled “Nowhere to turn to. Violence against women in the family,” called for renewed attention and pointed to the urgent need to adopt more effective policies for addressing the issue.

The numbers are frightening. Each year, more than 14,000 women are killed in acts of domestic violence, meaning that more than one woman dies in Russia at the hands of a relative, partner or former partner every hour. It is a crime common to all of the country’s regions and against women of all social classes and ethnic backgrounds.

Natalya Abubikirova, executive director of the Russian Association of Crisis Centers, drew a dramatic parallel to capture the scope of the problem: “The number of women dying every year at the hands of their husbands and partners in the Russian Federation is roughly equal to the total number of Soviet soldiers killed in the 10-year war in Afghanistan.”

According to a World Health Organization report on domestic violence, published in 2005, violence on the part of intimate partners is the most common physical threat women face worldwide. Globally, violence is as common a cause of death and disability for women of reproductive age as cancer. It is a greater threat to women’s health than traffic accidents and malaria put together. Although the ethical question is the most important element here, it is clear that domestic violence is also a serious public health issue.

Part of the silence associated with violence against women comes from women themselves. Cultural, economic, social and psychological factors, including shame and fear of retaliation, contribute to women’s reluctance to denounce these acts. In Russia, as in many other places, domestic violence is considered by many to be a strictly private matter. This makes it difficult to stir the government to action, including puttting pressure on law enforcement agencies to be more active in policing.

This extends to the courts, where women have little hope of gaining justice or protection. The Amnesty International report focused on this part of the problem, pointing out that violence of this type represents abuse of the victim’s human rights and that international law requires states to act to prevent these crimes.

In a study conducted by the Council for Women at Moscow State University, 70 percent of those women surveyed said they had been subjected to some form of violence — psychological, sexual, physical or economic — by their husbands. Ninety percent of respondents said they had either witnessed scenes of physical violence between their parents when they were children or had experienced this kind of violence in their own marriage.

As a public health issue, the exposure to this violence makes women more susceptible to depression, suicide and drug and alcohol abuse. Sexual assault by spouses and partners increases a woman’s risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases, including AIDS, and the number of unplanned pregnancies, and can cause serious gynecological problems, such as chronic pelvic pain.

It is clear that more has to be done to combat this epidemic of violence against women. Public attitudes about the problem have to change. Although there are some shelters, hotlines and crisis centers for female victims of violence in a number of cities, nothing close to an adequate, systematic approach to the problem exists.

At the legislative level, laws have to be enacted and enforced that criminalize all forms of violence against women, including marital rape. And not only victims, but also witnesses have to be protected against intimidation and further violence in the course of prosecuting these offenses.

The type of public education program that will be necessary to raise awareness about the problem, the kind of facilities necessary to provide real help to its victims and the legal protection that has to be put in place to stop domestic violence all depend on effective government action. Some sign of a commitment to action on the issue would be a fitting gift from the government to the country’s women on their day.

Russia’s Barbaric Abuse of Women Continues Apace

Writing in the Moscow Times Dr. Cesar Chelala, an international public health consultant and writer on human rights issues, exposes the horrifyingly bleak outlook for women in Russia:

Along with an avalanche of presents and office parties with endless rounds of toasts, International Women’s Day has also served as a catalyst for public discussion of women’s issues in the country. The problem of domestic violence, however, is unlikely to have much, if any place in the discussion. While the reticence to discuss it on a day meant to be a celebration is, perhaps, understandable, the degree to which the problem goes under-recognized and under-reported year round in the country is not.

Following the appearance of some frank discussion of the problem of violence against women in the 1990s, the topic has all but disappeared again. Amnesty International, in a 2005 report titled “Nowhere to turn to. Violence against women in the family,” called for renewed attention and pointed to the urgent need to adopt more effective policies for addressing the issue.

The numbers are frightening. Each year, more than 14,000 women are killed in acts of domestic violence, meaning that more than one woman dies in Russia at the hands of a relative, partner or former partner every hour. It is a crime common to all of the country’s regions and against women of all social classes and ethnic backgrounds.

Natalya Abubikirova, executive director of the Russian Association of Crisis Centers, drew a dramatic parallel to capture the scope of the problem: “The number of women dying every year at the hands of their husbands and partners in the Russian Federation is roughly equal to the total number of Soviet soldiers killed in the 10-year war in Afghanistan.”

According to a World Health Organization report on domestic violence, published in 2005, violence on the part of intimate partners is the most common physical threat women face worldwide. Globally, violence is as common a cause of death and disability for women of reproductive age as cancer. It is a greater threat to women’s health than traffic accidents and malaria put together. Although the ethical question is the most important element here, it is clear that domestic violence is also a serious public health issue.

Part of the silence associated with violence against women comes from women themselves. Cultural, economic, social and psychological factors, including shame and fear of retaliation, contribute to women’s reluctance to denounce these acts. In Russia, as in many other places, domestic violence is considered by many to be a strictly private matter. This makes it difficult to stir the government to action, including puttting pressure on law enforcement agencies to be more active in policing.

This extends to the courts, where women have little hope of gaining justice or protection. The Amnesty International report focused on this part of the problem, pointing out that violence of this type represents abuse of the victim’s human rights and that international law requires states to act to prevent these crimes.

In a study conducted by the Council for Women at Moscow State University, 70 percent of those women surveyed said they had been subjected to some form of violence — psychological, sexual, physical or economic — by their husbands. Ninety percent of respondents said they had either witnessed scenes of physical violence between their parents when they were children or had experienced this kind of violence in their own marriage.

As a public health issue, the exposure to this violence makes women more susceptible to depression, suicide and drug and alcohol abuse. Sexual assault by spouses and partners increases a woman’s risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases, including AIDS, and the number of unplanned pregnancies, and can cause serious gynecological problems, such as chronic pelvic pain.

It is clear that more has to be done to combat this epidemic of violence against women. Public attitudes about the problem have to change. Although there are some shelters, hotlines and crisis centers for female victims of violence in a number of cities, nothing close to an adequate, systematic approach to the problem exists.

At the legislative level, laws have to be enacted and enforced that criminalize all forms of violence against women, including marital rape. And not only victims, but also witnesses have to be protected against intimidation and further violence in the course of prosecuting these offenses.

The type of public education program that will be necessary to raise awareness about the problem, the kind of facilities necessary to provide real help to its victims and the legal protection that has to be put in place to stop domestic violence all depend on effective government action. Some sign of a commitment to action on the issue would be a fitting gift from the government to the country’s women on their day.

Russia’s Barbaric Abuse of Women Continues Apace

Writing in the Moscow Times Dr. Cesar Chelala, an international public health consultant and writer on human rights issues, exposes the horrifyingly bleak outlook for women in Russia:

Along with an avalanche of presents and office parties with endless rounds of toasts, International Women’s Day has also served as a catalyst for public discussion of women’s issues in the country. The problem of domestic violence, however, is unlikely to have much, if any place in the discussion. While the reticence to discuss it on a day meant to be a celebration is, perhaps, understandable, the degree to which the problem goes under-recognized and under-reported year round in the country is not.

Following the appearance of some frank discussion of the problem of violence against women in the 1990s, the topic has all but disappeared again. Amnesty International, in a 2005 report titled “Nowhere to turn to. Violence against women in the family,” called for renewed attention and pointed to the urgent need to adopt more effective policies for addressing the issue.

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Russian Woman: This is Your So-Called "Life"

The Guardian reports:

For four years girls and young women disappeared from their homes in the drab industrial Russian town of Nizhny Tagil. Their parents called the police and pasted up posters. But in the end it was a stray dog that tracked them down. The decomposing bodies of 30 females aged from 13 to 25 were found in a mass grave in woodland near the village of Levikha, 40 miles away.

The discovery sent a ripple of horror through a country inured to brutal tales. Prosecutors in the town on the eastern flank of the Urals, the crinkle of mountains separating the European and Asian parts of Russia, have now charged eight men aged between 25 and 46 with murder. But it has revealed a catalogue of errors on the part of Nizhny Tagil police who failed to link a string of missing persons reports from 2002 to 2005.

It is thought a gang led by two brothers used a handsome young man to lure the girls to a flat where they were raped and beaten. Those who refused to become prostitutes at the gang’s massage parlour ended up in the Levikha grave. The scale of the horror has reminded rich Muscovites of the brutal life out in the provinces where low pay and lack of work can drive ordinary people to shocking crimes. ‘In four years in Nizhny Tagila, a city of 400,000, girls were going missing left, right and centre and nobody raised the alarm,’ one newspaper commented. ‘Tens of girls and young women missing? And nobody gave a damn?’

Mark Kustovsky, the factory worker who acted as the bait, wooed the women with presents and visits to cafes. His wife said the ringleaders forced him to put bodies in the grave, telling him: ‘If you don’t bury them, you’ll be lying there yourself.’ But the police say he was a willing gang member.

‘The girls who didn’t agree to work in the brothel were taken to the forest and there killed and buried,’ prosecutor Nail Rizvanov said. The gang told the girls they were going for a picnic, feeding them kebabs before they were murdered. It is not clear how they were killed, but some had crushed skulls.

So far, 15 bodies have been identified in a process complicated by wild animals disturbing the remains. One of the girls is thought to be Yelena Chudinova, 15, daughter of one of the gang leaders.

The grave was close to a bus stop and dachas. Towards the end of their spree the gang gave up burying the bodies, just throwing branches over them instead.