Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed off on a controversial law, decriminalising some forms of domestic violence. 

The new law makes the first offense of violence against “close persons” such as relatives or children a less serious administrative offense, reducing the maximum penalty from two years of prison to a 15-day arrest or a $500 fine.

Repeat offences and attacks that cause “bodily harms” like broken bones will still be considered crimes leading to defendant facing a fine of up to $676, compulsory community service for up to six months or arrest for up to three months.

The bill, which applies to cases of “pains” such as bruising, gathered overwhelming approval with 85% Russian lawmakers backing it, promoting Putin’s conservative push for “traditional family values”.

Human Rights Watch had urged the Russian parliament to reject the law, calling it “dangerous and incompatible with Russia’s international human rights obligations.”

According to a 2007 UN report, roughly 14,000 women are killed every year at the behest of domestic violence, with 75% of them trying to leave when they were murdered.

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