Statement of Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women

Subsection on Special Rapporteur’s May 2008 visit:

 

 The following is an excerpt from a statement that the Special Rapporteur on Domestic Violence, Yakin Erturk, released at the conclusion of the visit:

 

Poverty and unemployment, which remain the most serious problems confronting Tajikistan, affect women disproportionately. Over the past decade, as industries that traditionally employed a large proportion of women declined and other sectors became reconfigured, women lost their jobs and became dispossessed.  Today, the vast majority of women are agricultural workers within insecure access to land and inputs, or they try to earn a meager subsistence in the low-paid sector, such as health, education and culture…Seasonal labour migration, mainly to the Russian Federation, and the inflow of remittances have become a significant component of the national and household economy of Tajikistan…While migration of men has enabled their households to improve their level of subsistence, it has not been free of problems, particularly for the wives and children left in the family home with the in-laws.  It is not uncommon for women living under such circumstances to encounter abuse and violence by their in-laws, or even eviction from the family house, particularly if the husband does not come back for long durations or does not send remittances.

 

As a result of strong patriarchal values prevailing in both the public and private spheres of life, women in general are expected to be obedient to their husbands and his family and often get blamed for having provoked disciplinary measures.  Family preservation is a highly upheld value that often has primacy over the interests of individual women.  Unless serious injuries occur, domestic violence is by and large accepted as a normal aspect of private life by men and women alike and not acknowledged as a problem warranting public intervention.  As a result, women must endure systematic abuse and humiliation in silence.  In some cases a woman may resort to killing her abuser and be condemned to many years of imprisonment, leaving her children destitute.  Suicides of women are said to be increasing, as the only way out of an oppressive life.

Many…expressed concern about the increasing trend in unregistered marriages as being a major source of vulnerability for women to domestic abuse and abandonment.  Not having an official marriage certificate makes it more difficult for these women to seek redress and take their claims related to housing or alimony to a court.  Practices pertaining to civil and residency (“propiska”) registrations have also been raised as aggravating factors.  In a context where most wives come to live at their husband's family home, upon divorce or separation, they may have no entitlement to property, housing or financial compensation should they hold a propiska in another locality…access to information and the existing infrastructure for the provision of services such as crisis centres and shelters for victims of violence and those under threat are inadequate in terms of availability, quantity, and human and financial capacity. While the adoption of the draft Bill on Social and Legal Protection against Domestic Violence-which I was assured will be before the Parliament in July- will no doubt contribute towards improved prevention, protection and prosecution of domestic abuses, particularly violence against women, other measures are needed to urgently enhance women's access to justice and the effectiveness and availability of services offered to victims, support the social and economic empowerment of women and change gender stereotypes as well as patriarchal mentalities that perpetuate the subordinate position of women in the family and in society.” 

 

From:  United Nations press release “UN Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women Concludes Visit to Tajikistan” at http://www.unhchr.ch/huricane/huricane.nsf/view01/03E589518A1B6415C125745200742F4F?opendocument