Rolling back domestic violence laws a sad day

Rolling back domestic violence laws does more harm than good in this week's Ponoka News editorial.

In a country where domestic violence appears to be the norm rather than the extreme, Russia’s move to decriminalize some forms of domestic violence rolls back the clock on human development.

Drafting the amendment to Russia’s laws had to have chilled lawmakers’ bones; legislation points out that as long as bones are not broken of a spouse or child in the first offense, then a person could face up to 15 days in prison, a reduction from a maximum jail sentence of two years. And as long as it doesn’t happen more than once a year.

What’s laughable about this is Russia’s record when it comes to handling domestic violence cases. According to Amnesty International this is no fake news or alternative fact organization violence against women occurs across all spheres in the country.

A 2005 report from Amnesty International states that there appears to be a lack of political will to change the state of domestic violence, especially to women, in the family. If the politicians don’t care, then how likely is it that police will investigate properly? The report investigates one case where a woman was beaten by her husband, and eventually ex-husband, over the course of many years. Events escalated where he eventually attempted to set her on fire, more than once.

Russian police said there was not much they could do, apparently missing out on the fact that the woman’s husband had a lighter in his possession and her jacket was soaked with inflammable liquid. This woman’s battles continued and the man’s actions escalated until he was eventually given one year in prison for assualting the woman’s friend and then lighting part of her room on fire.

These laws, rolling back penalties in a country where relatively little is done to combat domestic violence, will only embolden abusers. Lawmakers are saying quite plainly that if a person gets some minor bruises, maybe a little blood, that’s OK. Just don’t break any bones, because that might be a bad thing.

Some would say this is not our problem. Canada has its own battles and getting involved in another country’s internal issues is an opportunity for a diplomatic nightmare. Well why in heck’s name do we have the United Nations? Why do we even have these organizations like Amnesty International to watch out for human rights? And there lies the issue, when it comes to human rights on the world stage, humanity is slow to change, and for women even slower.

Women and girls are treated like property and it doesn’t just happen on the international stage. One only has to look at the news to remember Bountiful, B.C. Just weeks ago polygamists Brandon and Gail Blackmore were found guilty of taking a 13-year-old girl to the United States to be married. This case has been going on for some years now.

According to UNICEF, “more than 700 million woman alive today were married as children.” One third of those children married before they were 15. With a worldwide population of 7 billion people, this is a global issue that needs to be dealt with.

Women are the backbone of society. They are the first educators but the chances are less likely that they will go to school if they have children before they are 18. The solution to that is to have balanced representation, based on the population, from our lawmakers. Until that occurs we will continue this cycle that appears to put women on a level below that of men.

The sooner girls are educated on a global scale, the sooner changes will occur within differing cultures and understandings of the actual benefits of education. If girls are educated now, the next generation will see growth and women and children will see representation from lawmakers around the world.

These changes need to happen with urging and guidance from nations who have the clout to make it happen. Canada is one of those nations.