What's Life Really Like For Women In Russia?

With high rates of discrimination and low pay, Russia isn't known for its women's rights record. So what's life like for Russian women?

In August, a highly disturbing report from a Russian human rights group detailed widespread practice of female genital mutilation in the country's North Caucasus region. Despite strong condemnation of the practice by both the U.N. and the World Health Organization, it seems that Russia has no laws expressly prohibiting the practice.

In today's Seeker Daily report, Jackie Koppell looks into the issue of women's rights in Russia.

Short version: It's pretty grim. Russia is a highly patriarchal society with very few laws that specifically protect women. And the laws that are on the books are seldom enforced. Reports by human rights groups show that more than half of all Russian women are threatened with violence or are victims of violence, and roughly a quarter of them suffer sexual abuse.

According to a 2013 report by the Russian government, roughly 40 percent of all violent crimes occur within the family. Making matters worse, mainstream Russian culture largely dismisses domestic abuse as a private matter, rather than a law enforcement issue. Despite ongoing efforts to introduce a bill specifically criminalizing domestic violence, all attempts have so far been shut down.

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For women, effecting change in Russia is particularly difficult, in that they lack proportional political representation and income parity. Russia gets poor marks for gender equality, according to the World Economic Forum. The World Bank, meanwhile, notes that while Russia has one of the highest rates of female participation in the workforce, women only make about 60 to 70 percent of what men make.

Without proper representation, the situation is not likely to get better any time soon. Although there are women in the Russian parliament, their proportion is low. According to the World Bank, from 1990 to 2015, the percentage of women in parliament dropped from 16 percent to 14 percent.

The upside is that women's rights are making slow and steady progress within Russia, led in part by energetic youth groups like the feminist punk band Pussy Riot. Jackie has more details in her report, or click on over to our in-depth Seeker Stories installment: The Russian Schools Training Women To Be Housewives

-- Glenn McDonald

Learn More:

NPR: Controversy Erupts In Russia Over Report on Female Genital Mutilation

The Guardian: In Russia and Ukraine, Women are Still Being Blamed for Being Raped

The Independent: Russian Politician Behind Anti-Gay Law Wants to Decriminalize Domestic Violence