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«The Russian Federation has a centralized political system, with power concentrated in a president and a prime minister, a weak multiparty political ...»

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Rape is illegal, and the law makes no distinctions based on the relationship between the rapist and the victim. Spousal or acquaintance rape was not widely perceived as a problem by society or law enforcement authorities. Women were unlikely to report cases of rape by persons they knew. According to NGOs, many women did not report rape or other violence due to social stigma and lack of government support. Rape victims may act as full legal parties in criminal cases brought against alleged assailants and may seek compensation as part of a court verdict without initiating a separate civil action. While members of the medical profession assisted assault victims and sometimes helped identify an assault or rape case, doctors were often reluctant to provide testimony in court. According to the MVD, 4,624 rapes or attempted rapes were committed in the first 11 months of the year, a 6.1percent decrease from 2009.

The penalty for rape is three to six years' imprisonment for a single offender, and four to 10 years if the crime is committed by a group of persons. The perpetrator receives eight to 15 years if a victim is underage, and 12 to 20 years if a victim

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died or was under 14 years of age. According to NGOs, law enforcement personnel and prosecutors did not consider spousal or acquaintance rape a priority and did not encourage reporting or prosecuting such cases. NGOs reported that local police officers sometimes refused to respond to rape or domestic violence calls until the victim’s life was directly threatened.

Domestic violence remained a major problem. As of March 2009, the Ministry of Interior maintained records on more than four million perpetrators of domestic violence. The Duma's Committee on Social Defense reported that there were 21,400 murders during the year, two-thirds of which were of women who died in domestic disputes, up 50 percent since 2002. The Interior Ministry reported that at least 34,000 women were domestic violence victims each year, meaning a woman died every 40 minutes at the hands of a husband, boyfriend, or other family member. However, the reluctance of victims to report domestic violence meant that reliable statistical information on its scope was impossible to obtain. Official telephone directories contained no information on crisis centers or shelters. There are only about 25 women's shelters across Russia, with beds for a total of about 200 women, according to Moscow's Anna National Center for the Prevention of Violence.

There is no legal definition of domestic violence. Federal law prohibits battery, assault, threats, and killing, but most acts of domestic violence did not fall within the jurisdiction of the Prosecutor's Office. According to a March 2009 study by the Smolensk-based Center for Women's Support, police often provided lackluster and inadequate responses to calls reporting domestic violence, at times suggesting that cases wait until morning. According to NGOs, police were often unwilling to register complaints of domestic violence and frequently discouraged victims from submitting them. A majority of cases filed were either dismissed on technical grounds or transferred to a reconciliation process conducted by a justice of the peace, whose focus was on preserving the family rather than punishing the perpetrator. Civil remedies for domestic violence included administrative fines and divorce. The Center for Women's Support asserted that many perpetrators of domestic violence themselves belonged to law enforcement agencies.

Female inmates in the prison system faced particular challenges. According to the NGO Penal Reform International (PRI), as of April there were approximately 864,000 female inmates in 45 special prison colonies and detention centers.

Although these inmates faced the same poor living conditions as male prisoners,

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the PRI reported that in prison women had much less access to health care programs for tuberculosis or substance abuse treatment.

Human Rights Watch reports that "honor killings" were a continuing problem in some areas, such as the Caucasus, although it was difficult to estimate an exact number of victims.

Some observers noted that the country was a destination for sex tourism. Police worked closely with at least one foreign government to ensure the prosecution of sex tourists.

The law does not prohibit sexual harassment, which remained a widespread problem. NGOs operating hotlines reported that women routinely sought advice on the problem. The lack of legal remedies and limited economic opportunities caused many women to tolerate harassment. Authorities have successfully prosecuted only two sexual harassment cases since 1992.

The government officially recognized the basic right of couples and individuals to decide freely and responsibly the number, spacing, and timing of their children.

While there are no legal restrictions on access to contraceptives, some reproductive rights advocates reported that the atmosphere for their work was difficult.

International family planning organizations were unable to operate in the face of opposition from the government and from the Orthodox Church, making access to family planning limited, especially outside of big cities. The government explicitly encourages women to have as many children as possible to counteract the country's demographic problems (the country's population has declined by six million since the end of the Soviet Union). According to UN estimates, the maternal mortality ratio in the country was 39 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2008. Men and women received equal access to diagnosis and treatment for sexually transmitted infections, including HIV.





Although the constitution states that men and women have equal rights and opportunities to pursue those rights, women encountered discrimination in employment. Job advertisements often specified gender and age groups. Some even specified desired physical appearance and preference for applicants who were open to intimate relations with their prospective supervisors. Employers often preferred to hire men to save on maternity and childcare costs and avoid the perceived unreliability associated with women with small children. The labor market was characterized by gender discrimination in compensation, professional

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training, hiring and dismissal, and career promotion. However, such discrimination was often very difficult to prove. According to both RosStat, the federal state statistics service, and the Center for Labor Studies (of the Higher School of Economics), in 2007 women earned 35 percent less than men, although some more recent studies have provided a lower estimate. There is no government office devoted to women's legal rights. The women's rights NGO Peterburgskaya Egida reported that instances of pregnant women or those with children under three years of age being fired by their employers and denied social allowances increased in recent years.

The 2002 census indicated that 62 percent of women in the country had higher education, compared to 50 percent of men, and that women made up more than 50 percent of university tutors and professors. Women ran approximately 30 percent of medium-sized businesses and 10 percent of big businesses in the country. A March 2009 study by Price-Waterhouse-Coopers (PWC) found that the number of women taking managerial positions had grown from 30 to 40 percent since the onset of the economic crisis. Another PWC poll revealed that 90 percent of chief accountants, 70 percent of human resources senior managers, and 50 percent of chief financial officers were women. In May 2009 the Supreme Court rejected a St.

Petersburg woman's appeal to drive metro trains; she had filed a discrimination suit after being turned down for the job because of her gender. Article 253 of the labor code specifies that female workers should not perform "hard physical jobs and jobs with harmful or dangerous labor conditions, or work underground except in nonphysical jobs or sanitary and consumer services." According to the NGO Peterburgskaya Egida, this article had resulted in a list of 456 professions that legally exclude women, including diver, gas rescue worker, paratrooper, and firefighter. Women made up approximately 10 percent of the workforce of the federal and regional governments.

Although polygamy is illegal, the Chechen government has encouraged men to take more than one wife, has encouraged women and girls to wear headscarves when in public (schools, universities, and government offices), and threatened the jobs of some unmarried women, should they choose to stay single. According to NGOs, bride kidnapping was another prevalent practice in the North Caucasus.

Backed by local ancient tradition, it had reportedly grown as an acceptable reason to abduct and rape young women, whether they were returned to their families married or not. Often in these cases, the young women are forever "sullied" as they are no longer virgins and cannot enter a legitimate marriage.

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In June HRW received credible reports of individuals, including law enforcement agents, pelting uncovered women on the streets of Grozniy with paintball guns and threatening future brutality should they not cover themselves. At least one of the women had to be hospitalized as a result. In an interview with the television station Grozny on July 3, Chechen President Kadyrov expressed unambiguous approval of this practice by professing his readiness to "award a commendation" to the men who engaged in these activities. In August HRW reported receiving numerous accounts of the harassment of women in the streets of the capital by groups of men claiming to represent the Islamic High Council (muftiat) of the republic. They reportedly were joined by young men who pulled on the women's sleeves, skirts, and hair and accused them of being dressed like harlots. In two instances reported to HRW, members of Chechen law enforcement bodies were among the perpetrators.

Children

By law citizenship is derived from parents at birth or from birth within the country's territory if the parents are unknown or if the child cannot claim the parents' citizenship. As a rule all newly born babies are registered at the local civil registry office where parents live. One of the parents must apply for registration within a month of the birth date, and on the basis of the medical certificate of the hospital where the baby was born, a birth certificate is issued.

Although education was free to grade 11 and compulsory until age 15 or 16, regional authorities frequently denied school access to the children of persons not registered as residents of the locality, including Roma, asylum seekers, and migrants.

Child abuse was a widespread problem. In June 2009 the Duma passed a law that increased the maximum sentence for rape of a minor to 20 years. It also increased the penalties for child molestation and the distribution of child pornography. The law specifies that the maximum penalty for child molestation, if certain aggravating factors are present, is 20 years and for the distribution of child pornography, up to 10 years if aggravating factors are present.

Children, particularly the homeless and orphans, were exploited for child pornography. While authorities working on the issue viewed child pornography as a serious problem, the law prohibiting it lacked important details, and authorities seldom invoked it. The law does not define child pornography, criminalize its

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possession, or provide for effective investigation and prosecution of cases of child pornography. Courts often dismissed criminal cases because of the lack of clear standards. When a court convicted a suspect, it frequently imposed the minimum sentence, often probation. Authorities investigated and prosecuted relatively few cases involving child pornography, creating an environment in which it proliferated.

In 2008, the latest year for which figures were available, authorities registered 356 cases of the distribution of child pornography, opened preliminary investigations into 159 (an increase of 17.6 percent over the previous year), and brought indictments in 157. In 2009 the number of investigations increased to 259.

However, an MVD official noted that, while the performance of MVD officers investigating pornography had improved, the trade in child pornography remained strong. In March an MVD spokesman stated that a hotline for reporting instances of child pornography received 10,000 calls in 2009, leading to the shutdown of 3,000 distribution channels, including 300 shut down outside the country by cooperating foreign law enforcement agencies.

The government has created two federal resources to respond to the threat of child pornography through the Internet: the Russian Safer Internet Center, established in 2008 with a hotline to receive information on illegal content sources, and the Friendly Runet Foundation created in 2009 with the direct participation of the Interior Ministry, which also has a hotline for reporting Internet sources with illegal content.

In 2009 NGOs began a project entitled, Prevention of Sexual Exploitation of Children in the Russian Federation, with support from the European Commission.

The three-year project is a joint initiative led by the Syostry call center in Moscow, the Perm Center for Violence Prevention, and the Far Eastern Center in Support of Social Initiatives in the Russian Far East, which intended to put in place a system for training social workers, police, and educators in their regions on the prevention of violence against children, the provision of support for victims, and the early identification of sexual violence.

Citing MVD statistics, a Public Chamber representative said in May that each year nearly 120,000 children were orphaned, and each day, 200-220 were taken away from neglectful parents. The representative estimated that 600,000 children were located in different types of institutional and foster care. In a 2008 report, the NGO Children's Rights estimated that approximately 40,000 children ran away from

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home annually to escape abuse and neglect and that 20,000 orphans fled similar conditions in orphanages. The report, as updated in February 2009, corroborated the MVD statistics of approximately 120,000 new orphans every year.



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