While Russian women have long been celebrated for their strength—they “would hold up a galloping horse,” wrote the poet Nikolay Nekrasov in praise—they are still expected to be subservient to men in the workplace, where business is often conducted afterhours in the male-only steam baths.Just recently, Russian women have begun to circumvent this traditional system by forming female networking events.Still, the numbers of single men and women in Russia are roughly equal: 17.6 million single ladies to 17.2 million single lads.“That means that Russian women simply have no interest in marrying Russian men,” says Irina Zhuravleva, the head of Russia’s census department at the Federal Statistics Service.
When Shpakova consulted a lawyer, she was told that “there is no law defending a person’s dignity, no state guarantee of personal security,” she said.
In Russia as a whole, there are 11 million more women than men, due in part to a century of bloody revolutions, gulags, and wars that drained the country’s male population.
Add to that the fact that male life expectancy is particularly grim in Russia—on average, 59 years, as opposed to a woman’s 73 years, the largest gap of any country in the world—and you’ve got a serious demographic imbalance.
Despite the prevalence of domestic violence in Russia, the country has no law on the books outlawing physical abuse of a spouse.
It’s unsurprising, then, that Russia is home to the world’s second-highest divorce rate—after Belarus—with 65 percent of marriages ending in a split.