Thursday, February 21, 2008

Window on Eurasia: Two Million Russian Children Victims of Family Violence Each Year

Paul Goble

Vienna, February 21 – Some two million Russian children under the age of 14 are beaten by their parents each year, with the most victimized group is aged three to nine. Seven thousand are victims of sex crimes. And about 50,000 run away from home to escape such oppression, according to the Russian interior ministry.
As part of the Russian Federation’s “Year of the Family,” interior ministry officials yesterday held a press conference at which they presented these and other data about the extraordinarily high level of violence within Russian families at the present time, according to today’s Gazeta (
. Every year, the officials added, some 14,000 Russian women die at the hands of their husbands, frequently after long years of violent abuse. And their deaths, along with the attacks on children, mean that one in every four Russian families now suffers from violence of one kind or another.
What is especially sad, Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliyev told the gathering, is that “the majority of those suffering” from such abuse “do not turn to government organs and public organizations for help.” They are too “ashamed,” he said, and do not recognize that others want to help them.
And all too often, he continued, the victims of such violence often commit crimes themselves either immediately – there are now 11,000 youths in prison for crimes against their parents – or later when they become parents themselves, thus extending the cycle from one generation to another.
Nurgaliyev added that he believed the establishment of special hotlines could help but added that the Russian government needed to create special rehabilitation centers to help both victims and victimizers and to increase the punishments for those who mistreat children.
Another participant in the press conference, Andrei Babushkin of the “For Civil Rights” group, called for returning to the arrangements of the past in which the government could order more easily the forcible treatment of alcoholics and drug abusers, who often attack children.
Other news services this week have filed additional reports about this human tragedy. reported that the number of child killers and pedophiles in Moscow has jumped in recent years despite improvements in the standard of living (
Aleksey Golovan’, who is the human rights ombudsman for the Russian capital, told that outlet that in the last year alone, officials were forced to take 165 children away from their parents because the latter were abusing them or failing to supervise them in an adequate way.
And Novaya Izvestiya today added a detail which suggests that Nurgaliyev’s proposed solutions will not be enough. According the paper, ever more of the runaways in the Russian Federation come not from the poorest families but from those with higher incomes (
Indeed, the paper said, 70 percent of the runaways in the Russian Federation are from well-off families, who it reported often suffer from exactly the same problems and “psychological” stress that hits poorer ones. Like their Western counterparts, they are fleeing from troubles at home or hoping for adventures, and that is something that neither rising incomes nor hotlines by themselves will solve.

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