President Putin weakened Russia’s domestic violence laws Tuesday by signing a new amendment that decriminalizes certain acts of violence in the home. Under the so-called “slapping law,” an offender’s first beating in the home would now be treated as an administrative offense rather than a criminal one as long as the victim’s injuries don’t require medical care. A lesser charge means lighter sentences like a fine, community service, or up to two weeks in jail.
And the amendment will likely have wide-ranging implications: Russian Interior Ministry statistics show that 40 percent of violent crimes and murders take place in the home.
The amendment is a significant setback for women’s rights activists in Russia who had fought to address the country’s widespread struggle with domestic violence. Russia had just recently criminalized domestic violence in July 2016.
Women’s rights activists continued to voice their protest as the amendment went through several phases of legislative approval throughout the month of January. A petition calling for more robust legislation garnered over 250,000 signatures in recent weeks.
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