As soccer fans head to Russia for this year’s World Cup, a member of parliament is warning Russians against engaging in that other recreational activity that is popular when throngs of strangers congregate in a city far from home for an exciting and (dare we say?) intoxicating event. To be precise, Russian women were warned against engaging in casual sex with foreigners. While Russian women should welcome World Cup visitors with open arms, a Russian legislator says that they shouldn’t be as welcoming with other parts of their bodies.
Tamara Pletnyova, head of the family, women and children's affairs committee in the Russian parliament, said that Russian women should not have “intimate relations” with World Cup visitors per a report in The Telegraph. Pletnyova said that she is concerned that children of foreigners would ultimately be taken abroad.
“Even if they get married, they'll take them away, then she doesn't know how to get back,” Ms Pletnyova said on Moscow radio. “Then they come to me in the committee, girls crying that their baby was taken away, was taken, and so on.”
“I'd like people in our country to marry for love, no matter what nationality as long as they are Russian citizens who will build a family, live peacefully, have children and raise them,” Pletnyova continued.
The MP also warned against biracial sex, saying, “It's good if it's one race, but if it's another race, then they really did. We should have our own babies.”
Making babies is not something that Russians are doing well these days. In 2017, Russia’s birth rate dropped by a staggering 10.7 percent over one year. The Russian birth rate is below replacement level. The country’s population peaked in 1992, the year the Soviet Union broke up, and has been declining ever since per Radio Free Europe. The problem is exacerbated by Russia’s long history of legal abortion and the fact that terminating a pregnancy is five times as common as in the United States. The crisis spurred President Putin to create a government initiative to increase births earlier this year.
Despite the low birth rate, ethnic Russian nationalism means that biracial children are welcome. After the 1980 Olympics in Moscow and international festivals that hosted large contingents from Africa, the Middle East and South America, biracial children were often referred to as “children of the Olympics” or “festival children.” Less than one percent of Russia’s population is black and biracial people often face harsh discrimination.
Fraternization between the races or exhibitions of homosexuality could be dangerous in Russia. During the World Cup, cities will be patrolled by Cossacks, right-wing vigilantes sometimes put on the government payroll to help crack down on opposition protests, illegal immigrants and other undesirables. The Cossacks have been known to whip crowds and brawl with protesters.
Leaving aside the racial component to Pletynova’s comments, not engaging in casual sex and becoming a single parent is good advice. Raising children is difficult with two parents. Providing both adequate supervision and financial security is difficult or impossible for many single parents. Even in households that are not poor, as Slate acknowledges, children raised by single mothers are at increased risk for a variety of bad outcomes ranging from increased juvenile delinquency to a greater chance of teen pregnancy.
Given the vodka-infused Russian culture, it isn’t clear how many Russians will take Ms. Pletynova’s comments to heart. Decisions made in the moments of passion, especially when fueled by copious amounts of adult beverages, often lead to problems later. At least the World Cup baby boom may help increase Russia’s birth rate.