March 6, 2021

Murderers or victims, the case of the Jachaturian sisters turns one year old

The murder of a family man by three of his daughters put the hairs on the Russians a year ago, but as more rough details of the case became known, more and more voices began to take sides in favor of the girls.

"When the prisoners of (the concentration camp) Sobibor rebelled and killed their torturers, it never occurred to them to accuse them of it," one of the sisters' lawyer, Alexéi Parshin, told Efe.

On July 27, 2018, three sisters, aged 17, 18 and 19 – Maria, Angelina and Krestina – stabbed their 57-year-old father in Moscow while taking a nap.

According to the official version, the girls beat their father with a hammer and a kitchen knife.

When he woke up and tried to defend himself, one of the sisters took the last stab, which was fatal.

Subsequently, they were handed over to the police and since then they remain in the focus of attention throughout Russia, in what has become one of the most media cases on domestic violence in this country.

The judicial reports confirmed that the sisters had been suffering from physical and sexual abuse by their father for years, with whom they lived alone since he threw his mother away from home under death threats.

Parshin, who represents Angelina, said the abuses Jachaturián subjected his daughters "have been established and are not questioned by investigators."

However, the girls were accused of premeditated murder, which can lead to a penalty of up to 20 years in jail.

The possible punishment of the sisters, who after two months in pretrial detention are under house arrest awaiting trial, has resulted in numerous supportive actions.

Activists say that girls are victims of family violence and Justice must file the cause as soon as possible.

They also urge the approval of a law against domestic violence in this country, which charges thousands of victims each year.

In Russia, a law was passed in 2017 that decriminalizes the first ill-treatment within families, when aggressions cause physical pain but not injuries.

According to that rule, the aggressor will be prosecuted criminally only if he hits the same family member again within one year.

About 14,000 women die each year in this country at the hands of their partners, while about 36,000 suffer daily abuse.

According to the Russian Federal Statistics Service, only 10% of the 16 million women victims of sexist violence report the situation.

Since domestic violence is a "private matter" for much of Russian society and given the refusal of institutions to protect women, they only have two options: wait for them to kill or defend themselves and be sentenced to jail, as activists denounced in one of the acts in support of the three sisters in Moscow.

Meanwhile, in St. Petersburg the story of the three sisters will be taken to the theater, in another show of solidarity with the protagonists of the family tragedy.

"I believe that the Jachaturian sisters did not live in a family, in the proper sense of that word, but in a prison, with torture, humiliation and all kinds of abuse," the director of the center for assistance to victims of violence told Efe "Siostri" (Sisters), Nadezhda Zamotaeva.

For her, the sisters acted in self-defense in an attempt to put an end to the father's abuses, "which ceased to be so when he first resorted to violence."

"I think you have to change the article for which they are processed," said the activist.

The director of "Siostri" advocated the adoption of a law that protects women, but stressed that the solution to the problem is not only due to the change in legislation.

He also advocated a change in the attitude towards sexist violence in a country in which the "patriarchal model" of society has strengthened its positions in recent years.

On the other side are the family of the deceased and activists of "male movements" who ask not to exonerate the sisters because "they are murderers who must be in jail."

"You have to put them in jail, but society pressures Justice to avoid it," said one of the co-owners of the El Estado Masculino community, Dmitri Popov, in statements to the portal.

Popov, whose virtual group with more than 150,000 members is described as "patriarchal and nationalist," believes that the Jachaturian sisters must be tried for murder and not for exceeding in the exercise of the right to self-defense, as their defenders claim.

Anush Janbabian

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