International Women’s Day is celebrated on 8th March each year. It is a commemoration of the women’s rights movement and has a long history. The first Women’s Day observance was held in New York in 1909; in 1917 March 8th was declared a national holiday in the Russia; it became truly an international day when it was adopted in 1975 by the United Nations.
Movements in the US and Russia helped start International Women’s Day, new legislation on the treatment of domestic abuse victims seems a move back in time.
In Russia some forms of domestic abuse has been decriminalised, despite an estimated 14,000 women being killed as a result of domestic abuse in that country each year.
On 7th February 2017 Vladimir Putin signed into law a provision which makes some forms of domestic abuse an administrative, rather than a criminal offence. If spouse or children are beaten and there are no broken bones, the punishment now is up to 15 days in prison or a fine. The proviso is that this must not happen more than once a year. Previously, perpetrators of this type of abuse could face a sentence of up to two years in prison. The rationale of this new law is that it protects traditional family values.
In the US state of Mississippi, domestic abuse on its own is not grounds for divorce. Attempts to change the law were recently blocked with one Republican stating that is just that the perpetrator needs to “change their behaviour”.
In some ways the it is going backwards and therefore now more than ever the women’s rights movement has to stand up and continue to fight for victims of domestic abuse.
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