Marina Pisklakova

Marina Pisklakova is Russia’s leading women’s rights activist. She studied aeronautical engineering in Moscow, and while conducting research at the Russian Academy of Sciences, was startled to discover that family violence had reached epidemic proportions. Because of her efforts, Russian officials started tracking domestic abuse and estimated that, in a single year, close to 15,000 women were killed and 50,000 were hospitalized, while only one-third to one-fifth of all battered women received medical assistance. With no legislation outlawing the abuse, there were no enforcement mechanisms, support groups, or protective agencies for victims. In July 1993, Pisklakova founded a hot line for women in distress, later expanding her work to establish the first women’s crisis center in the country. She lobbied for legislation banning abuse, and worked with an openly hostile law enforcement establishment to bring aid to victims and prosecution to criminals. She began a media campaign to expose the violence against women and to educate women about their rights, and, now regularly appears on radio and television promoting respect for women’s rights. Today her organization ANNA (also known as the National Center for the Prevention of Violence) operates a network of 170 crisis centers across Russia and the former Soviet Union. She is now active not only in combating the scourge of violence against women, but also in preventing the trafficking of women and children. In 2004 she received the Human Rights Global Leadership Award. Pisklakova’s efforts have saved countless lives, at great risk to her own.