Since 2009 the SRJI/Astreya has been engaged into protection of women’s and children’s rights in family context. We have to admit that collecting evidence and obtaining victims’ statements in this kind of cases is extremely difficult. It hardly ever happens that the victim contacts law enforcement authorities on his/her own accord. Keeping in mind the peculiar character of the issues involved, we monitor and collect statistics on the number of women going to the police with claims of domestic violence. We are working in this particular field together with the NGO “Women’s Rights” (Chechnya). Lawyers from Chechnya handle divorce cases in which women apply for sole custody. We look at this kind of cases precisely because an urge for divorce can signal abuse against women or children. If the female applicant in these cases tells her lawyers from the “Women’s Rights” of domestic violence, our staff step in.
In most cases, a victim of domestic violence is pressurized by a number of factors, and she has difficulty focusing on the trial process. It is our task to work out all the “touchy” aspects (whether the husband uses weapon, beats her up, whether relatives are involved) and to try and protect the applicant while drafting the claim for the European Court.
In the North Caucasus, the pressure from relatives tends to “muffle” any urge for justice, as collective responsibility is a standard pattern here (the whole situation is considered a “family disgrace” to be thoroughly covered up). Nevertheless, we already have a relevant precedent, it is the case Khanamirova v Russia won by an applicant from Dagestan. Besides, we have submitted a claim on behalf of a domestic violence victim Shema Timagova to the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). The case has already been communicated to the Government of the Russian Federation, and Court decision is pending.Taking into account the reports by local and national human rights organizations showing that abuse against women and children in family context is a wide-spread practice, it can be hoped that court victories gained by particular abuse victims will be perceived by the other women as an effective remedy.