Women in Crisis
Last year a law was passed in Russia that decriminalised some forms of domestic violence, opening a conversation about women’s rights in Russia, something currently at the forefront of the media with the centenary of some women gaining the right to vote in the UK.
The BBC have made a documentary investigating how this law has affected life for women in Russia. What they found were stories that we have heard time and time again on our visits to Russia:
The big problem with alcoholism in Russia means children growing up in unloving families and ultimately being sent to orphanages.
Having had no experience of loving family life, these young people think it is normal for violence to exist in the family home.
With no education and few life choices, on leaving orphanages young girls quickly get pregnant.
There is still a strong belief that the man should provide the money and the women should stay at home so these girls stay with abusive partners as they provide the money.
Even if a woman wanted to leave her partner, the state benefits are low and assume a husbands wage: £40 a month maternity grant and £3 a month child maintenance.
The biggest problem is fear that she will be found. There are hardly any safe houses for women trying to flee domestic violence.
My parents abandoned me at an orphanage when I was very young. Aged 16 I had to leave the orphanage but had nowhere to go. At first I slept on friends’ sofas but knew I needed to find somewhere permanent.
I soon met my son’s father and I quickly got pregnant. We moved in together and I thought this would be the permanent home I needed. However he was violent towards me almost immediately and this carried on even after having our son. I felt scared and alone because I didn’t know what I could do or where I could go.
A friend from my orphanage told me that she had been helped by a Crisis Centre and she took me to meet Alina, the director. Alina offered me and my son a place even though we had no papers. Now I have a safe place to live and I am learning how to be a good mum to my son.
Sadly, due to the lack of safe houses in Russia, Sveta’s story is one of only a few with a happy ending. Many women are trapped in abusive relationships with nowhere to go. This is why we are extending the crisis centre we support - in order to be able to offer more women a safe place to live.
If you would like to watch the BBC documentary it will be available until June 2018. Simply search ‘Stacey Dooley Investigates… Russia’s War on Women’ in iplayer. or CLICK HERE >
Want to know more about the crisis centre we support? CLICK HERE >
Or, the summer project to improve the facilities there? CLICK HERE >