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HRW: pending Russia law will weaken protections against domestic violence

[JURIST] Pending Russian legislation [materials, in Russian] may weaken the country's protections against domestic violence, Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] said Monday. HRW is urging [HRW report] the Russian parliament to reject the legislation for the threat it posses to human rights obligations. The legislation will decriminalize the first offense in a matter of family violence so long as there is no serious harm that would require the hospitalization of the victim. Such offenses will be classified as "administrative offenses," which may result in fines against the offender, but the law eliminates the potentiality of a prison sentence. The law will undergo a second reading in parliament this Wednesday.

Domestic violence has recently become a point of contention in Russian politics. In July, parliament adopted contentious legislation that criminalized violence against family members. Citing concerns over the impact this legislation has on "traditional family values," some Russian politicians have introduced a bill to reverse the July legislation. In March the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), a UN mandate created to implement the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women [official websites], called [JURIST report] on Russia to amend, reduce and revise a list of restricted or prohibited occupations and sectors for women established by the law and to give women the appropriate compensation, reparation and access to jobs for which they are qualified. Statistics show [RG report, in Russian] that 40 percent of all violent crimes in Russia are occurrences of domestic violence.

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