MOSCOW (AP) — The number of domestic violence cases in Russia grew 2 1/2 times during the lockdown the government ordered to stem the spread of the coronavirus, Russia’s human rights ombudswoman said Tuesday.
Complaints and reports made to Russian non-governmental organizations spiked from roughly 6,000 in March to more than 13,000 in April, human rights obmudswoman Tatyana Moskalkova said.
“The picture is rather non-optimistic,” the RIA Novosti news agency quoted her as saying.
Russia imposed a nationwide lockdown in late March, with authorities in the vast majority of regions suspending most businesses and requiring residents to stay at home.
Nine women’s rights groups in Russia sounded an alarm last month about a surge of domestic violence complaints during the lockdown, urging action to protect victims.
Domestic violence is rampant in Russia. According to police data, up to 40% of all violent crimes are committed within families. Russian lawmakers in 2017 decriminalized simple assault against family members, and human rights advocates say the move encouraged abusers and made it much harder to protect victims of domestic violence.
Attempts to pass a long-anticipated domestic violence law stalled last year amid push back from conservative groups and the Kremlin’s efforts to fast-track a constitutional reform that would allow President Vladimir Putin to stay in power until 2036.