New Approaches to Crisis in Russia

In my previous blog, I addressed the issue of the necessity of using a new approach to domestic violence awareness and prevention in a socialist country, like Russia. Here, I will use this space to discuss those new approaches. One common assumption in the Western culture about domestic violence is that women are economically dependent on men and stuck in the private sphere. For Russian women, the nationalization of property creates no space for private ownership and therefore no domestic inviolability. More likely than not, domestic violence occurs over tensions of living spaces, interpersonal conflicts and stresses, and/or alcoholism. These are not just husband versus wife issues, but can be mother versus daughter, father versus son, sibling versus sibling, etc.  Domestic violence is often justified within the culture as a response to economic hardship.

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(Photo: Anastasia Rudenko, Photo Philanthropy)

In handling these differences, advocates used anthropologists’ studies on domestic violence within a socialist system, to make changes in their approaches. One simple change is the use of the term crisis, rather than violence.  This ubiquity helped to address not only the issues of violence, but social and economic inequality  and mental health, because “the whole of Russian society is perceived to be in crisis.” One advocate insisted that sexual violence is, with no dispute, a terrible issue plaguing women, but it is much less a widespread problem than economic violence and discrimination, that touched most women of Russia’s lives.

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