Domestic Violence? Nothing’s Wrong with That.

by AlexeKantchev on February 12, 2017 - 10:47pm

On January 25th, The New York Times announced that Vladimir Poutin approved a new law that reduces the sentence one can get if charged with domestic violence. Moreover, for now on, criminal charges will only be given if the victim was seriously injured (“concussion, broken bones or repetitive offense”). Some people go as far as saying that it is normal for parents to hit their children since it is a part of their culture. On the other side, some people believe it is a “step back to medieval times” and believe this law should not be in place.Afterwards, Ms. Aivazova gave troubling statistics saying that in 2014 more than 25% of crimes were committed by family and in 2015, 40%.

 

In its article, the author Ivan Nechepurenko explains that the religion is very present in politics and the Orthodox Church is one of the supporters of this new law.

In brief, the state believes corporal punishment on children is the norm and should not be punished by the law.

 

Since my father is Russian and I still have family living there, I am shocked that such laws are even being considered. I can understand that some family believe that smacking the bottom of a child is considered some kind of punishment, but this law goes beyond a slap on the wrist. I truly feel disappointed by this new law that, I believe, protects more the offender than the victims. Furthermore, he fact that the Church approves of it makes it even more wrong.

 

Source:

http://www.cnn.com/2017/02/07/europe/russia-domestic-violence-bill-putin/

Comments

Alexandra, I would just like to start off by saying that I am in complete agreement with your stance on this topic. Your points are very well made and you have also clearly provided facts that show that this issue is not getting better. What I would like to do in this comment is explain the “why” of your stance, as I understand if from your article, through the information I have learned so far in my Media Ethics class.
It might seem like common sense to not carry out domestic violence, but that is only because society in America is made up on different rules than European countries. In our readings, we learned that practices and actions – in this case domestic violence – are considered moral if (among other things) the majority of the population agrees that they are moral. Conversely, it would follow that if the majority of the population disapproved of the actions, then they would be considered immoral and unethical. This is one of the defining features of moral relativism, the notion that there is no such thing as absolute morality, and that the same thing can be ethical in one culture but unethical in another. You may correct me if I am mistaken, But I believe that this is the cause of your disagreement on this issue.

Alexandra, this is a very well structured article. The topic is properly introduced, and the different points of views are clearly presented. You also give your opinion and offer a personal connection to the issue, making your analysis more authentic. I found your article particularly interesting because the content overlaps with what I’ve been learning in an ethics class that I am currently taking.

In this case, there are conflicting ethical perspectives that are important to note. For instance, you briefly mention the idea that this abusive behavior is normalized by Russian culture. This pertains to the framework of ethical relativism, which states that we can’t judge the actions or behaviors of people from other cultures because morality is relative and subjective. It suggests that we can’t label this law as unethical, regardless of our own moral reservations about domestic violence. It is also interesting that you talk about your family background when stating your opinion against this, as it refutes this framework to a certain extent. It is important to consider under this viewpoint that your opinion was likely influenced by the culture where you now live.

My classmates and I also responded with skepticism to this ethical framework as our teacher discussed it, since it ultimately undermined our notion of morality. I believe in punishing any degree of domestic violence and don’t agree with the relativist perspective in this situation. However, I think it is important to consider the duality of this dilemma, rather than quickly dismissing the counter argument to what you believe in, in order to better understand and analyze the situation.

Your post points out a problem as it illustrates an acceptance of an inappropriate practice based on our cultural standards, and I am with you in the outrage against it. However, our critique is valid from our frame of reference and it is worth noting that we live in a completely different culture here in North America then one might be accustomed to in Russia.
Looking at this situation from a relativistic ethics point of view, it can be argued that since we do not live in Russia, we are in no position to criticize or speak out against laws that affect living in Russia. In other words, ethical relativism is a moral theory in which different cultures have different ideas about morality and one is not considered better than the other. Different cultural groups have established a set of moral values, which drive what they consider socially correct or incorrect. From the point of view of the Russian culture, perhaps disciplining children is seen as an important value and different methods are used to attain this than would be used in the North American culture. It is important to recognize that belonging to a different cultural moral group may mean having a differing idea of what is moral and what is not. Therefore, our opinions about what we call domestic violence in Russia may be considered biased and invalid because we live in a North American moral system.
This is not to say that you are wrong in criticizing this law, which may have implications for your family back home, it is just to realize that before critiquing others, it is important to consider it from multiple perspectives in order to better understand the situation.

I love how you used irony in your title to get the point across! This is a very well written text, but I would like to bring light to this issue through a more gendered perspective.

I’m sure that you are aware of our current problems with sexual violence that include rape, domestic violence, sexual assault and so on. There is a growing belief in our society that the victims should be blamed while the offenders be protected. This is called rape culture and this culture is continuously ignoring the frequency of rape. Russia’s new law on domestic violence fits in with this definition and is supporting a culture of violence that defends the offender. That brings us to the idea that most offenders are actually male. In fact, males make up 95% of offenders in domestic violence which tells us there is something seriously wrong with how we teach gender. This is the consequence of the man box where men are expected to act a certain way and if they don’t, they are ostracized and made fun of. Men feel an enormous pressure to prove their masculinity and dominance, and often, that involves violence. When Vladimir Putin approved of this law, the message of domestic violence is normalized and acceptable as long as the victims are not seriously injured. If you’re curious about the man box, check out http://www.wps.colostate.edu/men-and-masculinities. Overall, I think it's important to understand how gender works in our society to better analyze Russia's decisions that favor men in domestic violence.