Russian Ombudswoman Says Domestic Violence Surges Amid Coronavirus Restrictions

By RFE/RL

Russian Ombudswoman Tatyana Moskalkova says the number of domestic violence complaints in the country has jumped markedly since early April, when coronavirus restrictions in the country were tightened.

Moskalkova told RIA Novosti news agency on May 5 that data, based on information provided by nongovernmental organizations, showed domestic violence had more than doubled from before the outbreak.

"According to the provided data, there were 6,054 [domestic violence] complaints, while in April the number of such complaints passed over 13,000," Moskalkova said, adding the numbers are likely higher since many Russian women are reluctant to call hotlines and report domestic violence fearing retaliation from abusive spouses.

"I assume that communication is a problem here.... Using electronic devices to report domestic violence might be dangerous for the violence victims. We also monitor media reports about the issue and the situation is not optimistic," Moskalkova added.

Experts had warned that the combination of economic and social stresses brought on by the pandemic, as well as restrictions on movement to slow the spread of the coronavirus, could lead to an increase in domestic violence.

In early April, the United Nations called the situation a “growing crisis within a crisis,” estimating that six months of lockdown could result in an additional 31 million domestic violence cases worldwide.

First-time abuse offenses were decriminalized in 2017 and some Russian lawmakers, including those who are trying to push for a new domestic violence law, asked the government in April to take emergency steps to protect victims during the coronavirus lockdown.

Valentina Matviyenko, the chairwoman of parliament's upper chamber, the Federation Council, said last month that lawmakers might consider the legislation to recriminalize domestic violence as soon as “the circumstances permit.”

With reporting by RIA Novosti

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