Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Russian Women Defenseless Against Harassment by Male Colleagues, Lawyers Say

Paul Goble

            Staunton, January 16 – The recent case in Ufa in which a woman was raped by her police colleagues has called attention to a broader problem few in Russia want to talk about: Women there are almost completely defenseless against harassment and even rape by their male colleagues, especially in the country’s force structures, lawyers say.

            Over the long winter holiday, Ilya Polonsky of Svobodnaya pressa reports, there was another case that attracted media attention. A woman reported that two middle-aged doctors while drunk and working in an ambulance raped her. An investigation found that there had been no rape but there had definitely been harassment (

                The two doctors said they weren’t drunk and had only made a joke about having group sex with the woman (  But as Polonsky says, “it would be interesting” to learn how these middle-aged doctors would have reacted if such “a joke” had been directed at their wives or daughters.

            “In point of fact,” the journalist continues, “such anything but innocent ‘jokes’ are part of the lives of many Russian women.” Some brush them off, but others are deeply offended, especially when things go further and they feel they have nowhere to turn to defend themselves from these abuses.

            In Eastern societies, Polonsky points out, such “jokes” can result in violence from the husband, father or brother of the women. In the West, it can lead to enormous fines or even real jail time. But “in Russia, the situation is different,” less because there are not strict laws than because the authorities don’t apply them in a consistent way.

            On the one hand, lawyer Andrey Lisov says, there is currently “a definite ‘fashion’” to bring charges in such cases; but on the other, many women are afraid to report such attacks, investigators and prosecutors don’t know how to gather the necessary evidence, and as a result, “criminals escape punishment.”

            Another lawyer, Tamerlan Barziyev, says that the problem isn’t the legal code – that is relatively good – but in the absence of professional investigators capable of gathering the necessary materials for a case and in social attitudes, especially within any workplace, that keep women from complaining and thus allow men to behave badly. 

            Polonsky is clearly skeptical about recent SuperJob report showing that the percentage of women who say they have experienced sexual harassment at work has fallen from 12 percent in 2008 to only five percent last year and reporting that 89 percent of women have never experienced harassment.

No comments:

Post a Comment