This is what happens when domestic violence isn’t taken seriously by those at the top.
Only days after the Russian government voted in new watered-down domestic violence laws, a new video emerged on social media giving instructions to wife-beaters on how to hand out a good bashing without leaving any marks.
Yes, you read that right.
Under the new laws, soon to rubber-stamped by president Putin, first-time offenders no longer face jail terms if the damage only causes ``superficial’’ wounds, like ``small bruises and soft tissue injuries’’.
To ensure the laws were understood, quick-thinking content producers from a pro-Kremlin media agency called Life, posted a helpful how-to video that is jaw-dropping in it’s explicit instruction.
The video suggests handy tips such as wrapping the victim in a mattress before kicking them with boots, or using a cane to the soles of the feet. Strangulation and a slap to the back of the head are also recommended.
The opening screen of the 47-second digital is titled ‘’Top 5 ways to use violence in the family without leaving bruising’’ and bizarrely features an image of Macaulay Culkin in character from the Home Alone series.
Posted on both Facebook and Vkontakte - Russia’s popular social media equivalent – the video caused uproar. The creators defended the content by saying in a comment that the aim of the video was to explain ``what is not criminally punishable’ and denied they were encouraging people to experiment.
Only yesterday the Duma, Russia’s lower house of Parliament, overwhelmingly voted in the so-called ``Slapping law’’ that has been widely supported by all government members, regardless of gender.
Critics say the reform reflects the bigger backlash against Western values and government meddling in family life. ``You don't want people to be imprisoned for two years and labelled a criminal for the rest of their lives for a slap, ‘’ conservative senator, Yelena Mizulina said when initially proposing the changes.
The maximum penalty for a first-time offence is now either a fine or a fortnight in police custody. The legal changes also means that victims are now responsible for bringing a prosecution and collecting any required evidence. There is no onus on the police to automatically open a case.
Domestic violence is an immense problem throughout Russia. According to statistics, 40% of all violent crimes are committed within the family unit, but police have never really taken domestic violence laws seriously. This is partly due to the country’s traditional stance on the subject reflected in the old Russian proverb ``If he beats you it means he loves you.’’
Women’s rights advocates and workers on the frontline of domestic violence are reeling.
"It's like they've been given freedom to beat: as if it's not serious, just a slap or a shove. But it can lead to very serious consequences," domestic violence hotline operator, Irina Matvienko.told the BBC.