Alena Popova

“Perhaps this was all my fault,” served as a call-to-action for Alena Popova, a social and political activist who saw her friend through a brutal and violent beating at the hands of her boyfriend.

Alena’s friend had joined the ranks of the 36,000 Russian women who experience domestic violence in their homes every day. And just 24 hours after being admitted into the hospital for her injuries, she joined the countless women in the country who did not press charges against their abusers.

This prompted Alena  to start the Protect Women Project in 2013, aimed at fighting the domestic violence plaguing nearly one in every four Russian households. Her change.org petition collected more than 120,000 signatures calling for changes to insufficient legislation in just a few short days.

But progress is slow. Attempts to pass domestic violence laws in Russia have been unsuccessful for the past ten years. Alena is not deterred, however, and continues her work on the legislative front, taking part in the development of laws to protect women and children as well as serving victims in her community.

Today, Alena continues to fight what she calls her country’s “traditional, or rather archaic values”: those that keep violence behind closed doors and often even accuse the victims of provoking their attackers.

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