The European Court of Human Rights has ordered Russia to pay more than €370,000 ($416,000) to Margarita Gracheva, whose husband kidnapped her and cut off her hands with an axe.
Gracheva had told police about her husband’s aggressive behavior, but her complaints were ignored, according to the BBC.
In December 2017, he took her into a forest and chopped off her hands with an axe.
Doctors were able to sew her mutilated left hand back on, and she had a prosthetic right hand fitted through the help of a crowdfunding campaign.
Gracheva’s now ex-husband Dmitry Grachev has been sentenced to 14 years in prison.
In its ruling on Tuesday Dec. 14, the court found that Russia had failed to combat domestic violence against women – which it said was happening on a “staggering scale”.
It said that Gracheva’s case showed that authorities could not spot domestic abuse until it had caused physical injuries and ordered it to compensate Gracheva and three other women – Natalya Tunikova, Yelena Gershman and Irina Petrakova – who were attacked by their partners.
The court also called for Russia to legally define domestic violence and to criminalize all perpetrators, according to the BBC.
“Each of these women was seriously injured as a result of the state’s inaction in the situation of domestic violence,” Mari Davtyan, one of the lawyers representing the women, wrote on Facebook.
Russia had previously refused to pay the women compensation, with the deputy justice minister saying that the state should not be responsible for the actions of individuals in domestic violence cases.
There are virtually no legal mechanisms to protect people from domestic abuse in Russia, according to AP.
In 2019, a draft of an anti-domestic violence law was debated in the Duma but ended up being significantly amended and was never put to a vote.
This April, Russia’s Constitutional Court found that protections for victims of domestic violence and punishment for perpetrators were insufficient and ordered lawmakers to amend the criminal code.
However, the Duma has not taken action.
Alyona Popova, a lawyer and women’s rights activist who ran for the Duma, found through an analysis of government data that more than 16.5 million people in Russia are victims of domestic violence each year, and more than 12,200 women – two thirds of all murders in Russia from 2011 to 2019 – were killed by their partners or relatives, the New York Times reported.