Saturday, January 28, 2017

The Other Victims of Family Violence in Russia – Elderly Parents Beaten by Their Adult Children

Paul Goble

            Staunton, January 28 – Now that the Duma has passed its latest retrograde law decriminalizing violence within families in the name of supporting Vladimir Putin’s much- ballyhooed national traditions, no one should forget that children are far from the only victims of such attitudes and such legislation.

            Naturally, those who have opposed this infamous law have focused on children: they are more mediagenic and they are less likely to appeal to officialdom to protect themselves.  But there is another group of Russians who could use laws against family violence but now will lack that ability: elderly parents who are beaten or otherwise maltreated by their adult children.

            Because so many Russians still live together in extended housing, this problem which exists in many countries is especially serious there. But if anything, it is an even more hidden crime than attacks on children which, when discovered, can be expected to attract the attention of the media if not the Russian state.

            That pattern makes a new article by Lyubov Shirizhik, a Lenta news agency journalist, especially valuable because she not only highlights a problem many prefer not to think about but calls attention to some of the ways activists are trying to defend those at the other end of their life trajectories (

            Husbands who beat their wives or parents who mistreat their children are tragically commonplace, she says; “but everyday force affects elderly people” whose children are quite prepared to mistreat them in various ways up to and including murder. The victims of such violence have far fewer defenses than they should and far fewer than they did until recently.

            All too often, lawyers involved in such cases say, the elderly either blame themselves for what their offspring do to them or do not want to cause problems for children who in tough economic times may be having enough difficulties on their own.  And so this hidden violence goes on unabated.

            Sometimes children even as teenagers begin mistreating their parents, and when they grow older, they continue to do so, psychologists say, exploiting their own strength and size against their weaker and older relatives. And what is worse is that many of them use violence in this way because their parents used it against them.

            According to Mari Davtyan, a specialist in family law, “violence in the home descends through families. An enormous number of investigations in various countries show one and the same thig: children who are witnesses of violence or who suffer it in the future become aggressors on their own.”

            Indeed, she continues, “it isn’t important whether they see it in their own family or in someone else’s. In 70 percent of the cases, when they grow up, these children act the same way, and thus this experience is translated from generation to generation.” That means that the law decriminalizing family violence will only make its spread greater – and to the elderly as well.

            “It is a great misconception to think that only alcoholics and drug addicts beat their relatives,” the lawyer says. “We have IT specialists and engineers who go to work in suits and ties” but when they come home, they raise their hand” against family members. “They’re psychically well; they simply have this model of behavior.”

            The elderly find it difficult to complain, and Russian officials often choose to ignore even those complaints, the journalist says.  But some of Russia’s oldest citizens who are victims of violence from their children do manage to break through. Davtyan said that 300 of them had appealed to her office for pro bono help last year, and 42 cases were opened as a result.

No comments:

Post a Comment