In a case that has ignited protests and debates about domestic violence in Russia, three teenage sisters who killed their father after enduring years of physical and sexual abuse are facing murder charges.
As The Guardian reports, Maria, Angelina, and Krestina Khachaturyan bludgeoned and stabbed their 57-year-old father, Mikhail, as he slept at home in Moscow last July. The girls, who were 17, 18, and 19 years old at the time, then reported the attack to police, saying they feared for their lives if they didn’t act.
Investigators determined that the girls were beaten almost daily by their father in addition to being forced to perform sexual acts, according to The Guardian. On the day of the attack, their father had locked them in a room and sprayed them with pepper spray.
The girls’ mother, Aurelia Dunduk, told Russian media that her husband regularly beat her as well, before he threw her out of the house in 2016. She said she went to the police, but they did not bring charges.
“The sisters had only one choice: to defend themselves or die,” Anna Rivina, the head of an anti-domestic violence organization in Moscow, told The Guardian.
The sisters were charged this month with premeditated murder. Angelina and Krestina face up to 20 years in prison, while Maria, who was just 17 at the time of the attack, could be imprisoned for up to 10 years.
In protest, hundreds of people gathered outside the headquarters of the Investigative Committee law enforcement agency last week in Moscow, according to The Guardian. Activists have continued to picket its offices. A larger rally is scheduled for July 6 in Moscow. Protests have also taken place at Russian embassies and consulates around the world.
“There was no one they could turn to. Police in Russia think that domestic violence is a private, family affair and that there is no reason for them to get involved in this,” said Rivina. “The government can’t and won’t defend victims of domestic violence. Those women who are forced to defend themselves often end up in prison.”
Russia is one of the few countries not to have specific laws regarding domestic violence, according to The Guardian. In 2017, the country decriminalized some forms of domestic violence for first-time offenders.
Read the full story at The Guardian.