A rape survivor from Ufa, southwest Russia has died of her injuries two years after a brutal and sustained assault that horrified the country.
Serial sex attacker Gizar Ziyangareev assaulted cosmetics representative Anna Barmina, 33, in September 2015, just one week after being released from prison for sexual assault. He stabbed Barmina with a knife before raping her with a broken tree branch and taking her cash, laptop, and phone.
Barmina suffered extensive damage to her internal organs and suffered a heart attack before going into a coma for a year. Despite regaining consciousness, she was so traumatized by the assault that she never spoke again and never left her hospital bed. She was buried at a family funeral in Ufa on December 28.
Shortly before her death, a court shortened Ziyangaree's 23-year jail term—one of the longest ever sentences handed out by a Russian court to a rapist—by one month after he claimed that his elderly mother and children were dependent upon him.
Barmina’s mother Natalia described him as an “inhuman monster” and criticized the court for not giving the serial rapist the death penalty. "He will get out of jail one day and continue to rape," she said in comments reported by the Mirror.
Ziyangareev was a convicted sexual predator. In the week he was released from prison for raping a neighbor and underage girl, he went on to rape four more women, including Barmina. After his arrest, the Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper reported that Ziyangareev was unrepentant and even told police that his victims should be grateful to him.
“This case is awful, really awful,” says Russian anti-violence activist Alena Popova, “but it shows that sexual violence still doesn’t have preventative measures in place from the police or legislatures.” She highlights the court decision to cut Ziyangareev’s sentence as particularly abhorrent, and calls for specific laws to prevent repeat offenders from coming into contact with women, as well as anti-sexual harassment laws.
“The brutal nature of the repeated attacks by this man are a reminder of how much some men hate women,” says Sarah Green of the End Violence Against Women Coalition. “The apparently weak response from the Russian courts is likely related to Russia’s absolutely endemic levels of violence against women and girls.”
However, Green is hopeful that the situation may change with the FIFA World Cup in Russia later this year and the increasing scrutiny around Russia's human rights record in the lead-up to the football tournament.
“We hope that the World Cup this year will put a media spotlight on this and some pressure on the Russian authorities to take sexual violence more seriously.”