In theory, an anti-sexual harassment law adopted in 2014 should protect women from physical harm. In practice, however, discrimination and violence against women are widespread. The Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs says that 40 percent of violent crimes against women in Russia are committed by spouses or intimate partners, but an independent study found that the figure was actually closer to 80 percent. Now activists warn that decriminalization will legitimize further abuse. Small cuts and bruises will be considered under the new law as “minor harm,” punishable by a fine of up to $500 or up to 15 days in jail.
Patriarchy is the rule, not the exception. A government directive passed in 2000 prohibits women from driving tractors or changing sewer pipes in homes. There are, in total, 456 jobs that Russian women are banned from holding.
If demography is destiny, then feminism is fate. Empowering women in Russia isn’t just the right thing to do — it will rescue the country from looming demographic collapse.