A survivor of gang rape, 48-year-old Dina found support through UN Women and is now a women’s rights activist who has consulted, guided and supported 200 women survivors.

“When I was 20, I was raped by a group of my classmates after our friend’s wedding. My mother didn’t even try to listen to me… she said I had shamed the family and rented an apartment for me on the outskirts of the city. For 25 years, my rape stayed a secret. For 25 years, I trembled, silently, every time I heard about rape; I lost ties with relatives and close friends, and resented my mother for turning her back on me.

Last year, after years of counselling, I broke my silence. When I posted my story on Facebook, I immediately started receiving comments and private messages from thousands of women, who were harassed, raped or beaten up. I realised that my mission in life was to help women in Kazakhstan end this terrible violence.

UN Women gave me all the support I needed at the time—trainings, meetings with other activists, meeting with government officials. For the first time in Kazakhstan, we started talking openly about the issue, at the highest levels of the government and in the remote villages and towns, where we organised public awareness events.

“Our movement helped other survivors of sexual abuse break their silence, report the abuse and win their cases. One such survivor was Zhibek Mussinova who reported her rape to the authorities and the perpetrators were sentenced for 8-10 years. Her case made news because it was the first time [In Kazakhstan] that a survivor of gang rape and her family had openly fought for justice.

I want to help more women speak out and change the attitudes within our communities. We are not the ones to be shamed! Our attackers should be ashamed and prosecuted.”

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