Stacey Dooley Investigates: Russia's War on Women | Redbrick | University of Birmingham

Stacey Dooley Investigates: Russia’s War on Women

TV Editor Abbie Pease gives her thoughts on Stacey Dooley's latest BBC 3 documentary looking at domestic abuse in Russia

As the Russian government turns a blind eye, millions of women are being forced to choose between abuse and poverty. As well as sending the first woman to space, Russia was the first country in the world to legalise abortion. Since 1917, women have propelled Russia forward, fighting in its armies and producing its goods. In recent years both the government and the Russian Orthodox Church have cast an increasingly dark cloud over Russian society, pushing back on women’s rights. In her latest documentary, Stacey Dooley investigates the knock on effect of an increasingly disengaged government; the escalating problem of domestic violence against Russian women.

In her revealing documentary, Dooley speaks to a number of women who have been the victims of violence and assault
In 2016, the Russian government amended the law, decriminalising certain forms of violence. The result has been a doubling in the number of incidents reported in cities such as Moscow, and a significant rise in abuse against women by family members. In her revealing documentary, Dooley speaks to a number of women who have been the victims of violence and assault. Speaking to Svetlana, a woman on the run from her husband, Dooley delves into the Russian mantra that “If he beats you, it means he loves you.” Such a belief has meant that women such as Svetlana have become isolated by the rest of Russian society. She tells Dooley that those she reached out to, both in her neighbourhood and online, dismissed her claims, labelling her a “crazy woman”. With nowhere to turn, and a government that tolerates such abuse, women are being forced to choose between a life of abuse and a life of poverty.

The most disturbing part of Dooley’s trip is her interview with a Russian hardliner and his wife
The most disturbing part of Dooley’s trip is her interview with a Russian hardliner and his wife. Unwaveringly committed to religious Orthodoxy, he argues that only dreadful unattractive women fight for sexual equality. For this couple, violence is an intrinsic part of their marriage. Although residing at the extreme end of beliefs regarding domestic violence, such an attitude is not uncommon in Russia.

A city of thirteen million people, Moscow has near to no shelters helping women running from domestic abuse. At a push, the shelter that Dooley visits can house just seventeen women. The new law means that those charged with assault are given just a measly fine. This means that women wishing to report abuse have to take into account the money that may be taken from their family; money that could be used to provide for their children. For women who are financially dependent on their husbands, and who have no shelter to escape to, there appears to be no alternative to abuse. With maternity pay incredibly low, single mothers face a great deal of hardship.

Visiting an active feminist organisation in Moscow, she sees the precautions that women are taking to protect themselves
Despite an undeniable focus on the depravity of life for women being abused, Dooley’s investigation also takes a look at the women fighting back. Visiting an active feminist organisation in Moscow, she sees the precautions that women are taking to protect themselves. Receiving regular abuse via social media, these women have formed an underground fight club through which they learn different forms of physical self-defence.

For those of us living in progressive societies, feminism and the empowerment of women seem like fundamental parts of social policy. For Russia, society is going backwards, both legally and culturally. As insightful as ever, Dooley manages to expose and explore one of Russia’s darkest secrets. She is both passionate and empathetic towards the women she meets, helping to offer a platform upon which they can speak out against the hardships they face. Stacey Dooley Investigates: Russia’s War on Women is available to watch on iPlayer now.

History and Politics student, TV editor



Published

25th February 2018 at 9:00 am

Last Updated

26th February 2018 at 1:38 pm



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