Recently adopted law on domestic violence in Kyrgyzstan aims to improve protection measures for survivors, simplifies reporting procedures and introduces behaviour correction for perpetrators.

Date: 10 May 2017

A father raped his daughters for several years…An uncle abused his two-year-old nephew…A husband battered his wife to death in front of their children…In recent years, stories of such abuse have dominated the daily news in Kyrgyzstan.

On 28 April, Kyrgyzstan adopted a new law “On Safeguarding and Protection Against Domestic Violence”, which culminated from three years of joint advocacy by the Forum of Women Parliamentarians, the UN Secretary-General’s UNiTE to End Violence against Women campaign, civil society partners and the UN Gender Thematic Group, which consists of representatives from UN agencies in the country.

The law was welcomed by gender equality advocates and the public alike, as it improves protection measures for survivors and addresses implementation gaps in the previous domestic violence legislation.

Globally, domestic violence remains a problem of enormous magnitude, across the world. It is estimated that 35 per cent of women worldwide experience intimate partner violence in their lifetime. In Kyrgyzstan, 23 per cent of women aged 15 – 49 years report having experienced physical violence, and only two in five women report physical or sexual abuse to police or local authorities.

“According to the new law, anyone who is aware of domestic violence occurring can now report it and the police will be obliged to respond and take all necessary actions to address the violence,” says gender expert Zulfiya Kochorbayeva, member of the UNiTE initiative in Kyrgyzstan and involved in drafting the new law. “Previously, only survivors could report to the police, and since survivors might be pressured by perpetrators and the relatives, many of them either did not go to the police or withdrew their complaint the next day.”

“UN Women never doubted that the Government and the Parliament of the Kyrgyz Republic would pass the law against domestic violence, since it sets out concrete mechanisms for the implementation of various constitutional commitments to protect women and girls from violence,” stated Gerald Gunther, Representative of the UN Women Country Office in Kyrgyzstan. UN Women provided technical support to the Forum of Women Parliamentarians on drafting the new law and UNDP supported the costing and budget formulation for its implementation. UN Women also coordinates the UN Secretary-General’s UNiTE to End Violence against Women campaign around the world.

The new law draws upon reports of implementation gaps of the previous law on domestic violence, CEDAW Concluding Observations of 2015 [1], UN Women report on “Access to Justice” (2015) and Human Rights Watch Report “Call me when he tries to kill you” (2015), which include experiences of survivors and service providers. It provides concrete mechanisms for implementation, which was lacking in the previous law, by:

  1. defining clear roles and responsibilities of state and local self-government bodies in protection and safeguarding from domestic violence;
  2. introducing the behaviour correction programme for perpetrators;
  3. setting out a clear coordination mechanism for addressing domestic violence cases; and
  4. by improving the procedure of issuing protective orders.

For example, now under the new law, protective orders will be issued by the police for all the survivors in a mandatory basis, whereas before, rarely would survivors get this order due to lack of awareness and complicated procedures.

In their statement to the President in support of the adoption of the new law, members of the UNiTE campaign drew attention to the steep financial cost of domestic violence: “Domestic violence has an impact not only on reducing human potential, it puts a serious burden on the state budget. According to the research, “The cost of domestic violence” (2012), the direct costs of our state for only one case of murder of a person motivated by domestic violence amounts to more than 1.6 million soms (almost USD 24,000).”

The law had met with resistance in the first round of parliamentary committee hearings, but the joint advocacy by the national UNiTE campaign and women parliamentarians was instrumental behind its unanimous adoption by the National Parliament. Currently the national government, together with the UNiTE campaign, is drafting an Action Plan and budget to support the implementation of the new law, to be included in 2018 national budget.

Some fast facts on domestic violence in Kyrgyzstan (National Statistical Committee of the Kyrgyz Republic, 2010-2014):

  • Court statistics show that the judiciary agencies found 5,269 people guilty of committing domestic violence over the past five years. Among these, more than 68 per cent were the husbands of the survivors and about 20 per cent were the survivors’ sons.
  • During the period monitored, 21,525 people visited the health care system in response to domestic violence and for medical conditions arising as a result of domestic violence. Among these, 16,276 (76 per cent) were women.
  • Every year, between 8,000 and 9,200 people visit crisis centers, aksakal courts (local courts presided by elders in the community), and other specialized institutions as a result of domestic violence. In the period from 2010 to 2014, 41,927 visits stemming from domestic violence were registered, among which 33,846 (80 per cent) of those appealing were women.

Notes

[1] The UN Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) defines discrimination against women and sets up an agenda for national action to end such discrimination. Implementation of the Convention is monitored by the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (the CEDAW Committee), a body of independent experts on women’s rights from around the world. Countries who have become party to the treaty are obliged to submit regular reports to the Committee on how the rights of the Convention are implemented. During its sessions, the Committee considers each State party report (as well as shadow reports by civil society) and addresses its concerns and recommendations to the State party in the form of concluding observations.