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Central Asia’s First Center for the Support of Women and Girls to Open in Kyrgyzstan

Women whose rights are violated at home and at work will now be able to receive protection at a special center, according to the Kyrgyz Republic's Ministry of Labor, Social Security and Migration. It will be the first such center in Central Asia in support of female victims of violence, and will offer women and girls free psychological and legal assistance, as well as medical examinations. "When the one-stop shop opens, women and girls will receive all necessary services in one place, namely investigative and forensic medical examinations, as well as legal and psychological assistance," Deputy  Minister of Labor, Social Security and Migration, Zhanyl Alybayeva said at a meeting with international organizations and human rights activists. Alybayeva stated that the UN Office on Drugs and Crime is providing technical support for the center's opening. According to statistics, the number of cases of domestic violence against women in Kyrgyzstan today remains high. In 2022, according to official data, 8,620 cases of domestic violence against women were registered, and in the first 10 months of 2023, there were more than 8,000 instances. The majority of those who contacted law enforcement are women between the age of 18 and 34. At the end of last year, parliament ratified the international convention on the eradication of violence and harassment in the field of labor. A draft law "on amendments to some legislative acts of the Kyrgyz Republic in the field of protection and defense against family, sexual and gender violence" was also put forward. In their debate, MPs noted that most women who suffer from violence do not turn to law enforcement, and therefore the real figures are almost certainly much higher. The new bill also stipulates that perpetrators of violence within the family must temporarily leave the dwelling they share with the victim. "After an act of violence within the family, victims usually move out to acquaintances or to crisis centers, and then the family collapses," MP Dinara Ashimova said. "With this bill, we propose that it should be the accused who has to leave. Even when he returns, there will be a greater likelihood that the spouses will reconcile and the family will be preserved." Currently, ratification of the international convention is awaiting President Japarov's signature.

Uzbekistan to Strengthen Protections Against Domestic Violence

Following a project board meeting on February 7th, the UNDP has released plans to provide free legal aid in criminal proceedings for victims of domestic and gender-based violence. In April 2023, Uzbekistan followed Georgia, Moldova, Kyrgyzstan and Ukraine in criminalizing domestic violence. The impetus for this was the ever-increasing number of sex crimes perpetrated on women and minors. For example, in 2019, 99 people were convicted of sexual offenses involving a child under the age of 16, but by 2022, that number was 238. Last April, President Mirziyoyev signed amendments to legislation on the protection of the rights and freedoms of women and children. Experts from both within the government and NGOs, as well as activists from the Nemolchi.uz project, which helps protect women and children from violence, worked on the changes. The new version removes the right for perpetrators of sexual violence to use the argument of mitigating circumstances, and abolishes the right to early parole. Forced abortions can also be punishable by up to three years of correctional labor under certain circumstances. In addition, offenders who have committed sexual violence against a minor will no longer be able to use the argument that they did not know the victim's real age. One of the most anticipated innovations was the criminalization of domestic violence. According to the Committee of Family and Women of Uzbekistan, 21,871 protection orders were issued to victims of harassment and violence in the first seven months of 2023 alone. In 84.7% of those cases, the violence occurred within the family. Administrative or criminal punishment was meted out corresponding to 5,495 protection orders. In Uzbekistan, the overwhelming majority of families adhere to traditional patterns and recognize the dominant position of men as head of the family. Very often, women suffering from domestic violence do not speak about their issues out of fear of condemnation by their families and communities. In addition, such victims are usually financially dependent on the aggressor. In rural areas, girls are married off at a young age without receiving any education. As the UN Development Program (UNDP) Resident Representative in Uzbekistan, Matilda Dimovska observes, "criminalizing public sexual harassment is an important step in combating violence against girls and women. It is a logical continuation of the commitment to gender equality demonstrated at the highest level in Uzbekistan. The adopted legislation makes harassment in public places an administrative offense punishable by a fine of $60-150." In 2023, 666 people were convicted of sexual harassment in Uzbekistan. In recent years, along with its international partners, Uzbekistan has made tangible progress in combating violence against women and children. With UNDP support, a mobile application called Najot (Salvation) was developed with the aim of protecting the rights of victims of violence and providing them with timely assistance. The UNDP also launched a pilot initiative, Call Umida in Uzbekistan in March 2022. "Umida" means hope in Uzbek, and is a common name among women. Places and businesses that have joined the initiative are set up to immediately...

Almaty Woman Protests Banning Of Women’s Rights March

Almaty resident Liya Bergen recently made a lone protest on the city’s Republic Square to demand that the authorities approve an event for women’s rights. The event is planned for International Women’s Day on March 8, but the Almaty Akimat, headed by Yerbolat Dosayev, has refused to allow it to take place. Ms Bergen held a placard written in Kazakh bearing the words: "Dosayev, don't spoil the tradition, allow the march!" She later explained that she was taking action for justice and equality, as well as reminding the city of the struggles that Kazakh women still face for their rights and dignity.

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