Teenager Detained In St. Petersburg Says She Fled Home In Ingushetia Over Domestic Violence

By RFE/RL's Caucasus.Realities RFE/RL's Russian Service

Police in St. Petersburg have detained an 18-year-old woman from the North Caucasus region of Ingushetia who says she fled to escape systematic domestic violence and beatings.

Human rights activists in Russia said on November 23 that Leila Giriyeva called police after her relatives found her in an apartment in St. Petersburg and tried to take her with them by force. Police detained both the teenager and her relatives.

Police say they are waiting for information from authorities in Ingushetia, where Giriyeva was added to the wanted list over an alleged theft. Giriyeva and human rights activists say her name was added to the wanted list as a means of locating her in St. Petersburg. She denies the theft allegation.

Giriyeva insists that her father, a retired police officer, has regularly beaten her for several years. She says her relatives brought her to Islamic scholars "for treatment" several times because she has declared herself an atheist.

Domestic violence has been a problem in Russia's North Caucasus region for decades. Victims who manage to flee often say that they may face "punishment," including honor killings, if they are forced to return.

Usually, local authorities take the side of the accused abusers.

SK SOS, the human rights group whose activists provided the information about Gerijeva's detention, said on November 23 that police detained group member Vladislav Khorev while he was on his way to provide Giriyeva with legal support.

Last month, four sisters from another North Caucasus region, Daghestan, managed to flee to Georgia with the help of human rights organizations after they faced domestic violence.

In August, another woman from Daghestan, Patimat Idrisova, managed to leave Russia and change her identity after she faced domestic violence.

Last year, Daghestan-based rights activist Svetlana Anokhina said that two victims of domestic violence in Daghestan were taken by force from a shelter in Tatarstan and taken back home against their will.

Also last year, a police officer rushed into a shelter in the capital of Daghestan, Makhachkala, and forcibly removed a young Chechen woman, Khalimat Taramova, who had fled Chechnya with the intention of living with her girlfriend.