With the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the Russian Federation ("Russia") has emerged as the largest, richest, most populous, and most powerful successor state to the former superpower. In transitioning from one-party rule and a command economy to a multi-party political system and a market economy, however, Russia has undergone substantial economic and political turmoil. While the effects of this instability and dislocation have been experienced throughout Russian society, they have been particularly devastating for the lives of women in Russia. From the workplace and government to the streets and the home, Russian women are increasingly encountering discrimination, exclusion, and violence. Although Russian women's groups have begun organizing and demanding change, their voices unfortunately have largely fallen on deaf ears. In particular, the Russian government has failed to take measures to alleviate the severe situation, and in some cases has actually served to exacerbate it. In 1995, the Russian government pledged at the United Nations Fourth World Conference on the Status of Women in Beijing to take measures to protect and ensure women's human rights. As serious efforts in furtherance of this commitment remain elusive, the grave problems faced by Russian women continue to persist and are likely to intensify.

Women and the Workplace

The Russian Federation's transition to a market economy has been marked by growing economic hardship and a collapse of government services. From 1991 to 1995, the real gross domestic product (GDP) fell by 34 percent.(1) It fell another 6 percent in 1996, 2 percent more than it had in 1995.(2) The drop in GDP halted in August 1997, and according to Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, "Russia objectively stands on the threshold of economic growth."(3) While the government and some economists now predict an upturn in the economy, unemployment and its devastating effects continue to intensify. The unemployment rate, according to Goskomstat, the state committee on statistics, is hovering at around 10 percent; yet unemployment in Russia, a January 1997 report released by the International Labour Organisation suggests, is chronically understated.(4)

The impact of joblessness is felt disproportionately by women. Although women make up 53 percent of the population in the Russian Federation,(5) out of Russia's 2.3 million officially unemployed more than 70 percent are women.(6) According to the Moscow city employment committee, women account for about two-thirds of the unemployed in Moscow.(7) Hidden unemployment complicates the analysis. According to Goskomstat figures, 7.6 million jobs held by women were eliminated between 1990 and 1995, a fall of almost 20 percent.(8) In contrast, the number of positions held by men decreased by only 1.6 percent during the same period.(9)

Rising unemployment has been accompanied by a collapse in the purported official policy of women's equality in employment rights. Although Article 19 of the Russian constitution guarantees equal opportunities and equal rights to all citizens, government officials today publicly endorse discrimination against women. Former Minister of Labor Gennady Melikyan, for example, stated in a 1993 interview with CNN, "Why should we employ women when men are out of work? It's better that men work and women take care of children and do housework."(10) After making these statements, Minister Melikyan was promoted; after the merging of the Social Protection Ministry with the Ministry of Labor, President Yeltsin placed Melikyan at the helm.

The rhetoric of equality has been replaced by the rhetoric of "protection." Labor legislation effective July 1, 1996, increased the number of jobs closed to women by creating tougher working standards that employers must observe regarding women between the ages of fifteen and forty-nine. Citing considerations of women's health, and more specifically, reproductive functions, the law allows women currently employed in such positions to remain, but bans hiring women to fill new posts. It is difficult to estimate how many job opportunities--mostly in heavy industry--women have lost as a result of these new, more restrictive standards. Zoya Khotkina of the Moscow Center for Gender Studies, argued that these new standards in effect "take women out of the competition" for certain kinds of jobs.(11) According to Yelena Ershova, coordinator of the Russian Women's Consortium, women forced out of such jobs can only expect "lower-paid work or unemployment. This is just another attempt to keep women out of high-paying jobs."(12) Despite an appeal by fifty-three women's nongovernmental organizations that the legislation provide equal protection for women, the new version of the labor code, without such provisions, passed overwhelmingly in the Duma.(13)

The deterioration of the social safety net has exacerbated the dire situation of unemployment in Russia. No longer able to rely on the government for the provision of jobs or salaries, Russian citizens face high inflation, a cessation of basic social services, and a shrinking public sector.(14) Expenditures on health care, as a percentage of GDP, dropped from 4 percent in 1993 to 2.4 percent in 1995, and expenditures on social guarantees dropped from 4.4 percent in 1990 to 0.6 percent in 1994.(15) Consequently, pensions and welfare payments, which have gone unpaid for months in some locales, do not keep pace with inflation and have been dramatically reduced. Child-benefit payments for single mothers with children under the age of six, for example, fell from 14 percent of the average monthly wage in 1992 to 6 percent of the monthly wage in March 1995.(16)

Women and Politics

As women disappear from the workplace, they are also becoming increasingly scarce in Russia's political institutions. In the Soviet era, quotas ensured female participation in the Communist Party and legislative bodies at a level of approximately 30 percent.(17) When quotas were partially lifted in early 1991, the proportion of women's deputies in the RSFSR Supreme Soviet dropped from 35 percent to 5 percent.(18) Due in part no doubt to the creation of a women's political bloc, Women of Russia, representation of women increased to 13.5 percent in the First Duma (the lower house of parliament) elected in 1993.(19)

In the 1995 Duma elections, female members lost sixteen seats in the Duma, leaving them with a total of forty-six seats, or approximately 10 percent.(20) The Women of Russia bloc failed by 0.39 percent to clear the 5 percent hurdle necessary to gain some of the 225 proportional representation seats available in the Duma. Many of the female Duma members who failed to win reelection were those most involved in pursuing women's issues and drafting such legislation; the loss of their seats thus threw into doubt the development of practical policy to implement Article 19 of the constitution, the guarantee of equal rights and equal opportunities.(21) Galina Klimantova, sponsor of the draft law on family violence, and Ludmila Zavadskaya, head of the Duma Committee on Human Rights and author of Article 19 of the constitution, for example, both lost their seats.

The executive branch is similarly devoid of women. Of the more than twenty ministers that currently make up Yeltsin's cabinet, only two are women: the minister of culture and the minister of health.(22) Two other women who are also influential in executive policymaking include President Yeltsin's advisor on women's rights, Yekaterina Lakhova, and the president's daughter, Tatiana Yeltsina. The Commission on the Improvement of the Status of Women, however, was not directed by a woman; rather, its director was Deputy Prime Minister Oleg Sysoyev, a man with little prior experience in women's issues.(23)

Violence Against Women and the Absence of Reliable Statistics

Against this backdrop of women's growing marginalization in the economic and political sectors, violence against women in Russia persists as a chronic and overwhelming problem. Ascertaining the situation with any degree of precision, however, is quite difficult. The underreporting of sexual violence, for example, is an increasingly serious problem in Russia, and statistics based on official reports appear unreliable. According to official figures for 1995, rape and attempted rape accounted for 8.7 percent of all reported crimes against the person in Russia, a decrease from 14.1 percent in 1991.(24) The absolute number of registered rapes and attempted rapes in this period also decreased, from 14,073 in 1991 to 12, 515 in 1995.(25) This decline continued through 1996. There were 10,888 registered rapes and attempted rapes in 1996, representing a 13 percent decline in the context of declining crime rates in nearly every category.(26)

Research by members of the Russian Association of Crisis Center Workers suggests that government figures vastly underrepresent the actual number of rapes. Based upon phone calls received on their hotlines, crisis center workers in Moscow and St. Petersburg estimate that only about 5 to 10 percent of rape victims report to the police and many of those reports are not accepted.(27) According to Syostri, only approximately 3 percent of rape victims have their cases presented to a court.(28) Women do not report for many reasons: the shame associated with rape; fear of retaliation from the rapist; and fear that her neighbors and colleagues may learn of her rape.(29) Significantly, hotline staff in Nizhni Tagil, Moscow, and St. Petersburg stressed that women have no faith that the criminal justice system would or could provide any measure of justice.(30) Even if all rape victims reported to the police, moreover, government statistics as currently maintained would not accurately reflect the full scope of sexual violence in Russia: the Russian government does not keep track of complainants whose attempted rape reports are rejected or whose reports do not reach the investigative stage.

Similar problems arise in attempting to document the extent of domestic violence. While there are no official statistics specifically on domestic violence, according to the Ministry of the Interior, in 1996, approximately 80 percent of violent crime occurred in the home.(31) Yekaterina Lakhova, head of the Presidential Commission on Women, Children, and Demographics, has asserted that 30 to 40 percent of murders in Russia are committed by one family member against another, and women and children are the most frequent victims. Lakhova also has estimated that 14,000 women in Russia are killed by husbands or family members each year.(32) According to the Procuracy General, the prosecutor's office for the Russian government, 78,916 women in 1996 were victims of crimes caused by jealousy, argument or other "everyday"[domestic] motives.(33) Yet, based on these numbers, one cannot accurately evaluate how many persons are subject to violence at the hand of family members. Nor can one break the figures down by gender. The category of "everyday motives," for example, would include domestic violence as well as violence against neighbors and street fights between acquaintances. Olga Samarina, head of the Department on Social and Economic Affairs of Women in the Ministry of Labor and Social Development, acknowledged the failure of the federal government to maintain adequate statistics on violence against women, but maintained that the government has been trying to improve its statistics gathering since 1993.(34) "Without [statistics]," she stressed, "it is impossible to fight the problem."(35)

As with sexual violence, the official figures relating to domestic violence dramatically underrepresent the level of violence against women in the home. Women's rights activists who staff violence hotlines estimate that many more women experience violence at the hands of an intimate partner but never report such abuse. One activist who staffs a crisis center hotline in Moscow, for example, told Human Rights Watch that her center receives about seventy to eighty domestic violence calls per month, but the overwhelming majority do not go to the police.(36) Larissa Korneva, from the St. Petersburg Crisis Center for Women, which receives about seventy to 120 calls per month, said that about 20 to 40 percent of their callers who experience domestic violence want to report to the police, but as a rule the police do not help.(37) Many cases of domestic violence are either rejected or not investigated because the police refuse to pursue criminal charges, making distinctions that are not justified in the law between assaults by strangers and those by relatives or domestic partners. As one counselor reported to us, because of police inaction, "women prefer to live with the violence or to help themselves, rather than call the police again."(38)

Growth of the Women's Rights Movement

The deteriorating situation of women's lives in Russia has been met by a surge in the women's movement nationwide. Current estimates put the number of organizations working on women's issues in Russia at 400.(39) These groups represent a variety of interests and intentions. Coalitions such as the Independent Women's Forum, which unites over eighty regional women's organizations, and the Moscow-based Russian Consortium, which includes over seventy women's organizations, use their combined resources and strength to lobby the Duma for legislation on women's issues, provide educational programs on women's human rights, and assist women in retraining for the new labor market. Some organizations, such as Lubava in Kaluga, provide free legal services for women in employment termination suits, and others, such as Soldiers' Mothers, which lobbied to end the war in Chechnya, advocate for more general political causes.(40) Still others, such as the centers for gender studies in Moscow and St. Petersburg, engage in scholarly research of women's issues and seek to provide intellectual underpinnings for policy proposals.

The women's movement in Russia has gained significant strength since the first Independent Women's Forum was held in 1991. Russian women groups' participation in the United Nations Fourth World Conference on the Status of Women in Beijing provides an illustrative example of this rise in the women's movement. Much to the shock of the government of the Russian Federation, over 200 women leaders of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) from Russia attended the NGO Forum of the Beijing conference. The Russian government, which had not anticipated any Russian NGO participation, had not arranged for Russian to be one of the official languages of the forum. Instead, the women leaders raised their own funds and hired eleven interpreters to work at the conference. Since the NGO Forum, the Russian government has begun to take the women's movement more seriously, inviting NGO leaders to parliamentary hearings, appointing them to the Presidential Commission on the Status of Women, and accepting a Charter of Women's Solidarity signed by many of the country's most powerful national women's NGOs.(41)

Also attending the forum in Beijing were the leaders of the newly founded, grassroots women's crisis centers, or krizisnii tsentrii, of Russia. A phenomenon of the last four years, there are now fourteen crisis centers throughout Russia that provide services such as hotlines, individual counseling, emergency shelters, and legal aid. Underfunded and understaffed, these centers provide the only services available to rape victims and battered women. Registered officially as nongovernmental organizations under Russian law, the first eleven crisis centers banded together in 1994 to create the Russian Association of Crisis Centers for Women (RAACW). The RACCW has documented the magnitude and response to violence against women in a report distributed at the NGO Forum.(42) In addition, the RACCW actively encourages regional women's groups to build crisis centers locally: its network, for example, has helped to write and distribute 5,000 copies of the Youth Institute's Center for Women, Family and Gender Studies book, How to Start and Manage a Women's Crisis Center.(43)

Crisis center activists have also mobilized to address the extreme underreporting of rape and domestic violence. After learning from their clients that the police often refused to take women's complaints, members of the ACCW initiated efforts to train the police to handle cases of violence against women more effectively. In March 1996, at the invitation of the RACCW, the European Network of Policewomen sent a delegation of Dutch sexual violence experts, including police officers, a forensic doctor, and a crisis center director, to Moscow, Murmansk, and St. Petersburg to train Russian women police officers. The delegation provided seminars jointly for police and crisis center workers in order to build trust, expertise, and greater cooperation between these institutions. With the hope that other regions of Russia will adopt its model, the RACCW has also initiated a local pilot project in Nizhni Novgorod, 300 miles east of Moscow, to address the problem of underreporting and violence against women. This project includes training local law enforcement officials, drafting regional legislation against domestic violence, and developing crisis centers in Nizhni Novgorod. The Moscow Sexual Assault Recovery Center "Syostri," moreover, has prepared a pamphlet for women with advice on how to navigate the process of drafting and filing a complaint and pursuing prosecution. Syostri has distributed the pamphlets to regional crisis centers, women's clinics, schools, universities and some police stations. Although Syostri received official permission to distribute the pamphlets in police stations, it remains unclear whether police follow-up and pass them on to women reporting violence.

Beyond its support of grassroots efforts to provide services for victims of violence, create crisis centers, and train police officers, the women's movement has also put tremendous pressure on the local and federal governments of the Russian Federation to deal with the issue of violence against women. Some progress has been made at the local level. The city government of St. Petersburg and the local administration in Langepas, a small Siberian city, for example, have funded the creation of Russia's first shelters for battered women. These victories, however, came only after local activists lobbied for years to persuade local authorities to fund the projects. When activist Marina Aristova first asked the St. Petersburg city government for support in creating Women's Home, the first Russian shelter for women, she was advised to find foreign sponsors; instead she lobbied for three years and eventually secured from the city an abandoned kindergarten to remodel. The shelter now has built its capacity to sixty women and children.(44)

Less progress has been made at the federal level, despite the sustained efforts over the past two years by the Independent Women's Forum and the Russian Consortium to lobby the federal government to pass legislation and develop serious policy initiatives to combat violence against women. As this report documents, the Russian government has generally demonstrated a record of inaction and inertia in response to the serious problem of violence against women. It has failed, for example, to pass a national domestic violence law, or to take even minimal steps in revising the legal code to remove biases against women. In other words, as this report makes clear, the government of the Russian Federation has failed to live up to its promises, made nationally and internationally, and its obligations to ensure and protect the rights of women.


Through its ratification of international human rights treaties, Russia has assumed the obligation to protect women from both state and private-actor violence. Under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which the Soviet Union ratified in 1973 and which Russia agreed to uphold, Russia must ensure the rights to life and to security of person of all individuals within its territory, without distinction of any kind, including sex.(45) The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), which the Soviet Union ratified in 1981 and whose obligations Russia agreed to uphold, also mandates that Russia take action to eliminate violence against women. As a party to CEDAW, Russia is obliged "to pursue by all appropriate means and without delay a policy of eliminating discrimination against women."(46) This discrimination includes "any distinction, exclusion or restriction made on the basis of sex which has the purpose of impairing or nullifying the recognition, enjoyment or exercise by women, . . . on a basis of equality of men and women, of human rights and fundamental freedoms . . . ."(47) As the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women has made clear, "Gender based violence is a form of discrimination which seriously inhibits women's ability to enjoy rights and freedoms on a basis of equality with men."(48)

Under the ICCPR, Russia must not only itself refrain from, but also prevent private actors from from committing, acts of violence against women.(49) Article 2 of the ICCPR requires signatories "to ensure" the rights recognized in the treaty to all individuals within their jurisdiction. In interpreting a nearly identical provision in the Inter-American Convention on Human Rights, the Inter-American Court on Human Rights in the late 1980s explained that the duty "to ensure" requires a state to prevent or respond actively to violations of rights recognized in the treaty.(50) The government must:

take reasonable steps to prevent human rights violations and to use the means at its disposal to carry out a serious investigation of violations committed within its jurisdiction, to identify those responsible, to impose the appropriate punishment and to ensure the victim adequate compensation.(51)

As the court made clear, the state's duty extends to violations committed by private actors: the state "has failed to comply with [this] duty . . . when the State allows private persons or groups to act freely and with impunity to the detriment of the rights recognized by the Convention."(52)

In its Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women, adopted in December 1993, the United Nations reaffirmed the state's obligation of due diligence, especially as it applies to the protection of women from violence.(53) The declaration denounces violence against women, including violence in the home, as "a violation of the rights and fundamental freedoms of women."(54) It provides that "states should condemn violence against women . . . [and] exercise due diligence to prevent, investigate, and in accordance with national legislation, punish acts of violence against women . . . ."(55) As the declaration makes clear, the state's obligation applies regardless of "whether those acts [of violence] are perpetuated by the State or by private persons."(56)

1. Janet Guttman, "Russian Economic Problems Remain after IMF Handout," Reuters, February 9, 1997.

2. Ibid.

3. Maxim Filimonov, "Russian Economy Showed Growth Potential in August," Reuters, September 1, 1997.

4. Guy Standing, "Russian Unemployment and Enterprise Restructuring" (Geneva: International Labour Organisation, 1997).

5. Yelena Ershova, Yelena Kochkina and Marina Liborakina, "Komy gendernaya ekspertiza? (Who Needs Gender Analysis?)," Nezavisimaya Gazeta, February 2, 1996, p. 6.

6. Sergei Strokan, "Russia: NGOs Condemn Sexual Discrimination in the Moscow Workplace," Inter Press Service, November 3, 1995, p. 3 (quoting Izvestiya).

7. "Russia: Unemployment Among Women Accelerates the Pace in Moscow," Moskovsky Komsomolets, December 15, 1996.

8. In addition, the wage differential between men and women has widened, with women's wages overall falling to 40 percent of men's earnings from a high of 70 percent in 1989. Swanee Hunt, "For East Bloc Women, A Dearth of Democracy," International Herald Tribune, July 10, 1997.

9. "Rossiya v Tsifrakh (Russia in Statistics)," Goskomstat, 1995, p. 44, cited in, Zoya Khotkina, "Gendernaya Asimmetriya v Sferye Zanyatnost' (Gender Asymetries in the Labor Market)," VALDAI-96 Report, Moscow, 1996, p. 62.

10. Lee Hockstader, "For Women, New Russia is Far From Liberating: Sexism, Violence Common in Post-Communist Era," Washington Post, September 1, 1995, p. A25.

11. Telephone interview, Zoya Khotkina, Moscow Center for Gender Studies, December 17, 1997.

12. Hockstader, "For Women, New Russia is Far From Liberating...," p. A25.

13. Critics of the Labor Code included Presidential Advisor Ekaterina Lakhova, Duma Consultant Galina Sillaste, the Independent Women's Forum and the Krasnoyarsk Women Railway Workers.

14. See, for example, Michael Specter, "Pristine Russian Far East Sees its Fate in Gold," New York Times, June 9, 1997.

15. Goskomstat, Statistical Handbook: Standard of Living in Russia (Moscow: 1996), p. 13.

16. Martina Vandenberg, "Something to Celebrate," The Moscow Times, March 8, 1995.

17. Valentina Konstantinova, "No Longer Totalitarianism, but Not Yet Democracy: The Emergence of an Independent Women's Movement in Russia," in Women in Russia ed. Anastasia Posadskaya (London: Verso Books, 1994), p. 68.

18. Ibid.

19. Yelena Kochkina, "Vlast' v 0.39 protsenta ot zhenshin? (Power in Only 0.39 Percent of Women?)," Moscow Center for Gender Studies, unpublished article, p. 3.

20. Martina Vandenberg, "New Feminist Backlash," Moscow Times, March 8, 1996.

21. Kochkina, "Vlast...," Moscow Center for Gender Studies, p. 7.

22. During the Soviet era, two ministerial post were always reserved for women, a tradition which seems to have returned recently. Ibid.

23. To his credit, Sysoyev was recognized by NGO representatives for his good faith efforts in this role.

24. Interstate Statistical Committee of the Commonwealth of Independent States, Crime and Delinquency, 1991-1995 (Moscow: Ministry of Internal Affairs, 1996).

25. Ibid.

26. Data on the Number of Registered Crimes under Form 1-A of the Russian Federation Ministry of Internal Affairs, Procuracy General Department of Statistics and Analysis, Organization and Oversight Board.

27. Moscow Sexual Assault Recovery Center "Center Syostri," Annual Report 1996. Syostri reported that approximately 12 percent of their callers contacted the police. Out of the 159 callers to the St. Petersburg Crisis Center that asked about reporting to the police, about fifty-one actually contacted the police, about 32 percent. Anecdotal evidence from the other crisis centers follows this model. Based upon the phone calls they have received, all the centers with whom we spoke estimated that about 5 percent of women report rape. The percentage of crisis center callers who contact the police is probably higher than the population as a whole because they have already made the crucial step of contacting a crisis center and have begun to receive counseling.

28. Ibid.

29. Tatyana Zabelina, "Sexual Violence Towards Women," in Gender, Generation and Identity in Contemporary Russia, ed. Hilary Pilkington (New York: Routledge Books, 1996), p. 175.

30. Interview, Nina Vinogradova, Nizhni Tagil Crisis Center, Nizhni Tagil, May 8, 1996; interview, Lola Karimova, gynecologist, Moscow, April 22, 1996; interview, Marina Pisklakova, director, Moscow Crisis Center for Women, Washington, DC, April 10, 1997; interview, Natalya Khodireva, director, St. Petersburg Crisis Center for Women, St. Petersburg, April 30, 1996; and interview, Tatyana Lipovskaya, Moscow Sexual Assault Recovery Center, Moscow, April 23, 1996. According to a women's rights activist in Nizhni Tagil, some women have begun to request the assistance of their local mafia to punish the rapist. Interview, Svetlana Gibatinova, director, Nizhni Tagil Center "Lana," Nizhni Tagil, May 7, 1996.

31. U.S. Department of State, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 1996, U.S. Goverment Printing Office, Washington, DC, February, 1997, p. 1099.

32. RFE/Radio Liberty, [martina cite]

33. Procuracy General Department of Statistics and Analysis, Organization and Oversight Board, Procuracy General.

34. Interview, Olga Viktorovna Samarina, head, Department on Social and Economic Affairs of Women, Ministry of Labor and Social Development, Moscow, March 12, 1997. The Department on Social and Economic Affairs of Women is the only department that focuses on women's affairs. It is the department that prepares Russia's periodic reports for the Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.

35. Ibid.

36. Interview, Yelena Potapova, counselor, Moscow Crisis Center for Women, Moscow, April 23, 1996.

37. Interview, Larissa Korneva, St. Petersburg Psychological Crisis Center for Women, St. Petersburg, April 29, 1996.

38. Interview, Nina Vinogradova, Nizhni Tagil Center "Lana," May 8, 1996.

39. "The Signing of the Charter of Women's Solidarity Took Place at the Parliamentary Center on March 4," Agenstvo Sotsialnoi Informatsii [Agency for Social Information], March 6, 1997.

40. Human Rights Watch Women's Rights Project, "Neither Jobs Nor Justice: State Discrimination Against Women in Russia," A Human Rights Watch Short Report, vol. 7, no. 5, March 1995.

41. "The Signing of the Charter..." Agenstvo. The charter calls for unity among womens' organizations and creates a mechanism for the exchange of information on the organizations' activities, problems, and initiatives. Ibid.

42. Russian Association of Crisis Centers for Women: Research, Education and Advocacy Project, Report for the Non-Governmental Forum of the United Nation's Fourth World Conference on the Status of Women (1995).

43. The book was edited by Tatiana Zabelina and Yevgenia Israelyan.

44. Nadezhda Ilina, "V Peterburge ne khuzhe, chem v Norvegii (It is Not Worse in St. Petersburg than in Norway)," Nezavisimaya Gazeta, February 20, 1997, p. 6.

45. Arts. 2, 6, and 9. The same rights are guaranteed by the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (European Convention), to which Russia is a signatory. Arts. 2, 5, and 14. By virtue of its admission in 1996 to the Council of Europe, an intergovernmental organization which aims, among other goals, to protect human rights, Russia must ratify and adhere to the European Convention and must submit to the jurisdiction of the European Commission of Human Rights and the European Court of Human Rights, which enforce and interpret the European Convention.

46. Art. 2.

47. Art. 1.

48. CEDAW Recommendation No. 19, para. 1.

49. For additional discussion of international obligations with respect to violence against women by private actors, see Dorothy Q. Thomas and Michele Beasley, "Domestic Violence as a Human Rights Issue," Human Rights Quarterly, vol. 15, no. 1 (February 1993); Human Rights Watch, Global Report on Women's Human Rights (New York: Human Rights Watch, 1995), pp. 341-48; Human Rights Watch/Africa & Human Rights Watch Women's Rights Project, Violence Against Women in South Africa: State Response to Domestic Violence and Rape (New York: Human Rights Watch, 1995), pp. 39-44.

50. Velázquez Rodríguez v. Honduras (July 29, 1988), Inter-American Court of Human Rights (series C), No. 4.

51. Ibid., para. 174.

52. Ibid., para. 176.

53. Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women, U.N. Document A/Res/48/104, February 23, 1994. This declaration, adopted by the General Assembly in 1994, is a non-binding resolution that establishes an international standard.

54. Ibid., preamble.

55. Ibid., Art. 4(c).

56. Ibid. In an effort to begin addressing the problem of violence against women, the United Nations High Commissioner on Human Rights appointed the first special rapporteur on violence against women in 1994. The special rapporteur's mandate is to research violence against women, its causes and consequences, and to recommend methods to eliminate such violence. In her first report, the special rapporteur stressed the state's obligation to respond in a nondiscriminatory manner to violence against women: "States are under a positive duty to prevent, investigate and punish crimes associated with violence against women." Preliminary Report Submitted by the Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women, Its Causes and Consequences, U.N. Document E/CN.4/1995/42, November 22, 1994, p. 18. The report explained: "In the context of norms recently established by the international community, a State that does not act against crimes of violence against women is as guilty as the perpetrators." In a February 1996 report specifically addressing domestic violence, the special rapporteur emphasized that "the role of State inaction in the perpetuation of the violence combined with the gender-specific nature of domestic violence require that domestic violence be classified and treated as a human rights concern rather than as a mere domestic criminal justice concern." Report Submitted by the Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women, Its Causes and Consequences, U.N. Document E/CN.4/1996/53, February 5, 1996, p. 9