| Bulletproof: A survivor fights to end violence against women in Russia

Russian student Darya saw her life change forever during an argument with her boyfriend in April 2020.

Shaig Zeinalov, a drunkard at the time, pulled out a gun and fired. The shotgun fired, but it was hit in the eye by a piece of bullet that came out of the wall.

When he shouted for her to call an ambulance, she refused.

“He said I still have a second eye to do, and I can call it that,” Darya, 19, recalled in an interview with Reuters to mark the UN International Day for Emination of Violence Against Women.

So he was able to pick up the phone and say three words:

At the age of 18, I was shot in the head and died.

The United Nations estimates that up to 3 out of every 3 women worldwide has been abused, and the numbers are rising at a time of crisis such as the Covid-19 epidemic.

The situation is particularly acute in Russia, where the practice of male domination is rampant and civil rights groups claim that women’s rights are inadequate.

Domestic violence

In 2017, President Vladimir Putin signed a law banning domestic violence, in an effort to reduce domestic violence, but campaigners called it a setback.

Mari Davtyan, head of the Center for the Protection of Victims of Domestic Violence, told Reuters:

Russia is still one of the few countries in the world that has no government-sponsored mechanism for victims of domestic violence.

Advances in the law on the protection of women have been halted by the epidemic. A spokesman for the upper house said the law would be enacted this fall but it had not been passed.

Darya, who requested that her last name not be used, is rebuilding her life. She plays a “Bulletproof” tattoo on her leg, runs an Instagram account called “One-Eyed Beauty” and has published a book on physical and emotional abuse. His friend was sentenced to five years in prison.

Once she obtained her law degree, she plans to use it to protect many women from the trauma of her experience.

“Before the shooting, I was a beautiful 18-year-old girl, I had a very good job …,” she said.

“After the tragedy, I was left with a broken face. I couldn’t work … I couldn’t take good care of myself. In fact, another gun robbed me of everything.”

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