Russian activists from the Consortium of Women’s Non-Governmental Organizations launched a Halloween social media flashmob — #LawOrDeath — to push for a 2017 law that largely decriminalized domestic violence to be overturned.

“This day has become an occasion for those who like to rattle other people’s nerves,” said Tatiana Belova, the originator of the idea and a lawyer at the Center for the Protection of Victims of Domestic Violence. 

“The autumn cold that breaks through to the bones, a cobweb hanging from the ceiling, skeletons in the closet — these are Halloween associations. But terrible things happen every day and nightmares have long been part of Russian everyday life.”

Hundreds of people have already participated in the action by posting photos of themselves in bloodied T-shirts to illustrate their personal stories, express solidarity with those who have faced violence and call for the adoption of a law on the prevention of domestic violence.

“Today is Halloween. All day the feed will consist of horror, zombies, skeletons and vampires … but in fact, terrible things happen every day,” wrote Alexandra Mitroshina, blogger and one of the founders of the “You’re Not Alone” movement.

“I want to scream and cry when I read the women’s stories, when I recall my own story, but I continue to just wait for the law to be adopted, because many people are fighting for it and I hope that it’s not in vain.”

“I want the state to help the women who fell into this trap. It remains for us to force them to do this.”

Belova also highlighted that Russia has had the highest number of victims of domestic violence among children and women among developed countries for fifteen years. 

According to official Rosstat statistics, in 2018, 33,378 people in Russia suffered from domestic violence. And in general, about 33% of respondents had experienced violence in their families or in their friends’ families, Russia’s Public Opinion Foundation (FOM) survey says.

In February 2017, President Vladimir Putin approved the law decriminalizing most forms of domestic violence, downgrading first-time domestic beatings from criminal offenses to administrative ones.