Does Domestic Violence Exist According to Russian Church and Television?

Wednesday, 18 July 2018: 11:18
Oral Presentation
Yuliya GRISHINA, Bergische Universität Wuppertal, Germany
While 12 thousand women die from domestic violence in Russia every year, the State Duma recently approved a change reclassifying first-time battery against a family member as a misdemeanor instead of a felony. Multiple questions were raised, including if the act can be viewed as normalizing violence and in what kind of society it is possible. In this light it appears important to examine the messages regarding domestic violence that are broadcast by local opinion-makers, and in my research I focus on Russian television and the Russian Orthodox Church. I have analyzed the TV series Boiling Point (2010) and The Perfect Victim (2015) and the public statements on the issue made by high-ranking members of the Church. I aimed to answer the following questions: is domestic violence ignored, condemned, normalized, or romanticized and glamorized? Is there a component of victim-blaming? What support options (legal, medical, psychological, spiritual, material) are really available to the victims and how they represented? I have found that both the Сhurch ministers and the television writers often fail to conceptualize domestic violence as a real, pervasive and painful issue and never outwardly condemn it even if it is at the center of their speech or screenplay. They depict official support systems as useless and nonexistent, possibly normalizing the factual inaction, and offer unrealistic solutions to the victims’ problems in the form of poorly motivated helping figures. Some television plots point to religion as a way to salvation, however, the Russian Orthodox Church often distances itself from the issue. Domestic violence is a territory in which the fundamental Russian concept of family values meets the law, and the dynamic between them can be viewed as a litmus test of the modern Russian society and its ideas of crime and justice.