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Intrafamily violence in Russia: Why were peasant women beaten and how they could defend themselves
Intrafamily violence in Russia: Why were peasant women beaten and how they could defend themselves
"The family of a merchant", thin. Ryabushkin A.P

The woman, in the opinion of the peasant community, demanded strict treatment so that her inherent vices did not prevail over her. Also in the rural environment, the intellectual abilities of the beautiful half of humanity were considered low - "a woman has a long hair, but a short mind." All this formed a system where a woman must unquestioningly obey the head of the family (father-in-law and husband). And she, as a rule, obeyed, but not out of respect, but out of fear of becoming a victim of physical violence.

For any offense - a tastelessly cooked dinner, wasted money - a woman could receive "moralizing". In the village, they did not say “beat”, they said “teach”, assault was not at all unacceptable, on the contrary, it was considered the duty of any self-respecting peasant (“not to beat your wife - there’s no point in being”).

For what offenses peasant women could be beaten

Objections, criticism of the husband's actions are the basis for beatings

Behavior that undermined male authority in the eyes of the public was discouraged. Objections, criticism of the husband's actions are sufficient grounds for beatings. Laziness, the slow pace of doing chores, improper storage and use of raw materials were also condemned. Adultery (or only the suspicion of such) could cause serious bodily harm. In such a situation, other family members - mother-in-law and father-in-law in particular - could join the process of “learning” women.

Such cruelty is explained by the risk of conceiving and giving birth to a child from a stranger. In a peasant environment, the birth of a new family member meant that they would have to work harder, as well as divide resources among more people. The prospect of feeding an illegitimate child is highly undesirable for the head of a peasant family. Physical torture towards the traitor was not always the husband's initiative. Often, the decision on punishment was made at the meeting, and the spouse was only the executor.

For crimes against marital fidelity, “driving” or “shaming” with elements of physical violence was relevant. In the village of the Yaroslavl province, the deceived husband harnessed his wife to a cart along with a horse and began to strike with the whip alternately - now the animal, now the woman. Thus, the peasant covered a distance of 8 versts. The woman passed away.

Physical violence was used when the husband was denied sexual intimacy

A man who refused to punish an unfaithful wife, as the candidate of historical sciences Z. Mukhina writes, was subjected to condemnation and ridicule. This behavior was perceived as undermining the foundations, the inability to be the head of the family. Physical violence was also used against those who refused to have sexual intercourse with their husband. The civil law specialist E. Soloviev wrote that the beatings could have followed because of the refusal to be the husband-in-law's concubine (this phenomenon is called daughter-in-law). Or the punishment for the obstinate relative was harder work and constant nagging.

As the Tambov historian V. Bezgin writes, the birth of a female child could also cause indignation of relatives, this is due to the fact that land resources in the rural community were distributed only in terms of the male population. The birth of a girl did not promise the family an extension of the allotment. It happened that the beatings ended in death, there are numerous evidences confirming the death.But such criminal cases were difficult to conduct, as witnesses to the incident, as a rule, gave false testimony, protecting the despot husband from punishment.

Going to court made things worse

"Family Section" (1876), art. Maximov V.M

Women who sought protection from the authorities took risks. This position was perceived by the community as a rebellion against family traditions. V. Bezgin writes about the following examples. After hearing the case in the Tambov Province Volost Court about the beatings from her husband, the applicant peasant faced shame (public driving through the village as a sign of condemnation) organized by her husband and father-in-law. The verdict of the court was the arrest of the culprit for 7 days. In the Sarajevo volost court, where the case of forcing a peasant woman by her father-in-law to intimacy was tried, it was decided to punish the plaintiff for libel. As a measure of punishment, arrest was appointed for 4 days.

The victim becomes a murderer

The easiest way to stop bullying is to return to your parents' house

The easiest way to stop bullying - to return to the parents' house - was condemned in the peasant community, as it contradicted Orthodox morality. Not only did the woman acquire a bad reputation, but those who sheltered her received the title of indulgers of "woman's willfulness." Wives who could not bear the beatings dared to kill. In order not to meet the resistance of a physically stronger person, the crime was committed while the offender was asleep. The murder weapon was heavy objects (ax, stone), which were used to strike on the head.

A method that does not cause any special hostility from fellow villagers is poisoning (usually with arsenic). It was used by more than a third of the oppressed women who decided to kill the offender. The current legislation did not distinguish this method from others, qualifying it as premeditated murder. But in the peasant community, they showed some condescension to the poisoners. This was due to the fact that the criminal did not act openly, did not show impudence, did not behave desperately.

Domostroy …

However, there was also a place for positive in the Russian village, for example, Russian folk craft, founded by brothers-serfs, which still flourishes today.

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