Russian Federation ― Human Rights Council ― Violence against Women ― Sept.  2012

The Advocates for Human Rights submitted a report focusing on gender-based violence in the Russian Federation to the UN Human Rights Council for its Universal Periodic Review of Russia.

In the town of Kushchyovskaya in Russia’s Krasnodar Region, an organized criminal gang called the “Tsapki” orchestrates rapes with impunity, and authorities’ complicity with the gang’s activities forces women to live in fear. Women in the town of Kushchyovskaya have been victims of systematic impunity for rape for over two decades. Reports indicate that over 200 women in the town have been raped in recent years, and from 2008 to 2010 the 47 reported cases led to criminal charges only twice. Members of the Tsapki carry out these rapes in an organized fashion: they collaborate to systematically stalk women in classrooms and at school functions; police, school officials, and other townspeople turn a blind eye; and women live in a constant state of fear. Additionally, individuals attempting to speak out against the Tsapki’s reign of terror have been aggressively silenced— the dean of a local school spent a year in solitary confinement on fabricated charges after she spoke out against the Tsapki.

In response to allegations of mass rapes, Russian authorities conducted a perfunctory investigation. Police convened a public hearing during which they asked victims to identify themselves; when no woman raised her hand , officials closed the investigation. The Advocates recommends a full-scale investigation including confidential interviews, guarantees for the safety for individuals reporting crimes, and accountability for the perpetrators and their collaborators. Furthermore, Russia should improve training for officers and judges, increase the number of crisis centers for women, and intensify the investigations and subsequent punishments for crimes of sexual violence against women.

The Advocates recommends several measures to protect women from gender-based violence and to hold perpetrators accountable.