- Not a Cross to Bear
Domestic Violence, Coptic Christianity, and the Need for Accountable Theology
by Mariz Tadros
On the 18th of May, 2019 G., a Coptic female nurse living in Sydney, Australia was suffocated by a plastic bag and stabbed seven times as she was leaving the hospital after completing her night shift. The murderer was her husband. Insider information suggested that on the 16th of May, a high-ranking member of the Coptic Orthodox clergy pressed that she return to her husband despite being informed that her husband was allegedly a drug addict and was continuously beating her. It is alleged that G. did not want to return to her marital home, but she was told this is her cross and she must carry it. The case is the latest in a string of incidents that we have witnessed in Egypt and among the Coptic Diaspora of women sacrificing their lives as they succumb to the clergy’s pressures upon them to bear their cross. Another case in Brighton a few years ago involved a very similar scenario: a woman violently killed by her husband had been pressured into returning to her marital home. Sources who spoke on condition of anonymity shared that the local parish (Coptic) priests had pressed the victim to return to her marital home-against her expressed wishes not to return to him—and despite their awareness of his long history of wife-beating. While they did not physically force her, according to the sources, they certainly exerted a lot of pressure, urging her to bear her cross for the children’s sake. (more…)
- Is the Russian Orthodox Church Pushing Battered Women into Feminism?
by Lena Zezulin
As expected, President Putin signed the law decriminalizing family violence, shifting certain offenses from criminal to administrative proceedings. Ostensibly this was done to bring the law into compliance with changes to the criminal code that had redefined assaults that do not result in “substantial bodily harm” from criminal to administrative violations. The change was decried by human rights activists in Russia and foreign observers as a step in the wrong direction. In addition, the position of the Russian Orthodox Church in support of the measure, and the Church’s opposition to the very notion of “family violence” as an import of Western “gender ideology,” received widespread criticism. Now that the law has been changed, where are we? Continue Reading…
- “Beat Her When You Are Alone Together”
Domestic Violence in the Russian Tradition, Past and Present
On February 7, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law decriminalizing domestic violence. Now, the first instance of poboi—“actions which cause physical pain but do not lead to grave injury or loss of ability to work’’—will be treated as a misdemeanor rather than a criminal act. This means that the offender will incur a fine of 30,000 rubles (about $500), community service, or a fifteen-day detention. If the offender repeats the offense within a year, the second offense will be treated as a criminal act. If more than a year goes by, the slate is clean, and the repeat offense is once again a misdemeanor with no jail time.
This measure prompted a furious response, both in Russian social media and abroad, when it was first raised in the lower courts last June. It seemed as if the most vulnerable members of society were left without protection, and as if the state considered bloodying one’s wife and children somehow not serious. But the picture is more complicated than it seems. Continue Reading…