Paths Crossed: The violence of Russian men

Given everything else that’s going on, I don’t know if you picked up this story by Neil MacFarquhar in the New York Times, “Killers of Husbands Are Acquitted by Court, and Russia Is Shocked.”

I, too, was shocked. (And have noticed Russians are in the street protesting a raise in the age at which they can take pensions, maybe not as exciting as other subjects of protests but it’s weakening Putin’s popularity; if “popularity” is the proper word to use; maybe “acceptance of subjugation?” Something like that.)

Back to domestic violence in Putin’s Russia.

A couple of the article’s paragraphs which will give you (as it gave me) an idea of how radical these acquittals are:

“A man beating his wife is less offensive than when a man is humiliated,” Yelena Mizulina, the lawmaker who led the effort to decriminalize domestic abuse, told reporters in 2016. She added that it was “mandatory” for a woman to respect her husband as the “authority” in the marriage.

Whereas abusers had previously faced up to two years in jail, under the new statute they risked only 15 days, or a maximum fine of about $440, or 60 to 120 hours of community service. That was for any act against a spouse or child that causes bruising or bleeding but not a broken bone, as long as it did not happen more than once a year.

Years ago, I became friendly with a young woman, a Russian-Jewish emigre, who was attending law school. We talked a lot about a lot of things.

She and her mother and father were living in Brooklyn — Little Odessa, if I remember correctly.

One day she told me that her father regularly beat her mother who just accepted it as part of her life. My friend told me this bitterly, angrily. She despised her father for this, felt awful for her mother but was helpless to stop it. She had tried to convince her mother to leave the father but hadn’t succeeded.

Then she said to me, “That’s what Russian men are — brutal to women. Never, ever get involved with a Russian man.”

Although it’s anecdotal, I have never forgotten this warning and have never gotten involved with a Russian man. Except to follow the monumentally heroic Alexej Navalny on Twitter.

This Russian judicial decision may prove to be a warning to Russian husbands. I hope so.



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