Violence Against Women in Kyrgyzstan
Kyrgystan
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Population of women: 2,811,300/2,240,300
Life expectancy of women: 73
School life expectancy for women: 13
Women's adult literacy: 99%
Unemployment of women: 9%
Women engaged in economic activity: 55%

Source: U.N. Statistics Division, Social Indicators, updated June 2011

Updated 14 January 2009

Legal Protection for Women

Structure

The Constitution of the Kyrgyz Republic guarantees equal protection to all citizens. Article 13 states that "All persons in the Kyrgyz Republic are equal before law and the court. No person shall be subject to any kind of discrimination, violation of his rights and freedoms on the ground of origin, sex, race, nationality, language, religion, political and religious convictions or any other circumstances of personal or public character." The same article states that “In the Kyrgyz Republic men and women have equal freedoms and rights, and equal opportunities for their realization”. The new Constitution was adopted by referendum on October 21, 2007.  

Law of the Kyrgyz Republic on Gender Equality –Law of the Kyrgyz Republic “On the Basics of the State Guarantees of Gender Equality” was adopted by the Parliament on 31 January 2003 and signed by the President of the Kyrgyz Republic on 12 March 2003. This Law provides for equal rights and opportunities for persons of both sexes in social, political, economic, cultural, and other aspects of human life; it is designed to protect women and men against discrimination on the basis of sex; its purpose is to promote progressive democratic relations between men and women on the basis of national traditions; and it provides state guarantees of equality and equity to persons of both sexes.

The law applies to family members and relatives who reside with, and experience physical, psychological or other harm from an abusive family member (Article 5). Article 1 provides definitions for domestic violence, physical domestic violence, psychological family abuse and sexual domestic violence. Articles 23 and 24 address temporary restraining orders, and Articles 25 to 27 address protective court orders.

Monitoring of the law is the responsibility of the police and court system. There were amendments to legislation for punishments under the law. These amendments added three new articles into the Code: 66.3, 66.4 and 66.5. Articles 66.4 and 66.5  on “Non-implementation of temporary and judiciary protective order provisions” state that non-implementation of the temporary and judiciary protective order provisions lead to administrative fines or administrative arrests for up to 10 days and 15 days.

Monitoring

On October 2, 2003, Kyrgyzstan submitted its Third Periodic CEDAW Report. Three months later, in January of 2004, seven non-governmental organizations submitted a shadow report to the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women monitoring committee. These groups presented their material on the grounds that the governmental submission was insufficient as to the breadth and impact of gender discrimination in Kyrgyzstan.

The Concluding Comments of the CEDAW Committee made various recommendations to State representatives. Areas of particular note included:

1.       Creation of education programs and campaigns that would inform the judiciary, law enforcement personnel, and women about existing national and international laws in place to ensure and promote gender equality.

2.       The Committee urged the State to intensify its efforts to combat trafficking in persons, focusing particularly on the State’s responsibility not to penalize victims of trafficking, and also to create broader, better economic opportunities for women to limit their vulnerability to traffickers. 

3.       Despite the enactment of the Law of the Kyrgyz Republic on Gender Equality, the Committee was concerned about the widespread nature of domestic violence and requested a detailed report on sexual violence against women in the State’s next report. It recommended an extensive public awareness raising campaign against violence in the family.

4.       The Committee expressed concern about Bride Kidnapping and requested that the State immediately begin enforcing its laws which penalize such practices.

5.       Other concerns and recommendations related to property rights of women, poverty and health in general, equality in the workforce and political representation.

In 2008, a Forum of Women’s NGOs in Kyrgyzstan created another Shadow Report for CEDAW summarizing and articulating research and findings of monitoring activities conducted between 2004 and 2007.

Impact

Despite a proactive and influential women’s NGO community, two supportive domestic laws regarding gender equality, participation in CEDAW and other UN treaties which promote equality, and two National Plans of Action to Achieve Gender Equality over the past ten years, significant impediments to the cessation of gender violence still exist in Kyrgyzstan.

Domestic Violence

Once the 2003 Gender Equity Law was adopted by Parliament, the focus shifted to its implementation. Such was a concern of the CEDAW Committee in 2004, and a primary topic of monitoring by Women’s NGO’s who contributed data for the 2008 Shadow Report.

According to the Report while 4,651 women sought assistance from shelters, courts of elders and other organizations, only 63 domestic violence cases reached the Court system in Kyrgyzstan in 2005-2006. Those cases resulted in the issuance of 18 Court Orders, 16 of which only included warnings of administrative arrest or criminal proceedings against the perpetrator.

Additionally, the U.S. Department of State reported that rape is still a significant problem. The official number of rape cases has increased in the recent past, however, this increase may be due to increased reporting, rather than an actual increase in rapes. Regardless, the officially reported numbers are still low.

The Interior Ministry reported that during 2007, there were 259 registered cases of rape in the country, 235 of which resulted in convictions. NGO’s however, estimate that the actual number could be up to 10 times that figure. The NGO Crisis Center Sezim estimated that 90 percent of cases brought against alleged rapists would never be brought to court. All experts concurred that most of the cases would be mired in corruption as bribery is commonly used to curtail investigations regarding rape.

Trafficking in Persons

According to the Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women, Kyrgyzstan is considered a country of primarily origin and transit for human trafficking. Women, usually under twenty-five years of age, are trafficked into sex work to the United Arab Emirates, Turkey, China, Germany and Greece.  

In 2004, Winrock International, Inc., published “Preventing Human Trafficking in Kyrgyzstan” an assessment (December 2003 – January 2004). A second report was published in 2005 analyzing efforts to combat trafficking supported by Winrock.

Winrock found that Kyrgyzstan is known as a source, transit and destination country for victims of human trafficking. The dynamics of human trafficking in Kyrgyzstan are very complex and cover a wide spectrum ranging from exploitation of labor migrants to forced prostitution. Kyrgyz women are recruited for work in countries like UAE, Turkey, South Korea and other countries. Internal trafficking of women occurs as well. The most common victims of internal trafficking are under-aged girls from rural regions of Kyrgyzstan who get forced into prostitution in the larger cities of the country.

According to the 2007 U.S. Department of State Human Rights  Practices Country report, trafficking in persons continues to be a problem in Kyrgyzstan. The U.S. Department of State reported that in early 2004, Kyrgyz police apprehended three individuals involved in a trafficking operation. These individuals included an immigration official and a former employee of the state passport department. 

In 2006, due to insufficient evidence, a court in Jalal-Abat acquitted arrested traffickers attempting to move 61 women by plane to Dubai. The State Department reports identifies particularly, the problem of official corruption that frustrates attempts by the Kyrgyz government and NGOs to combat trafficking and assist the victims of it. According to the U.S. Department of State, "victims reported smooth and highly organized trafficking operations that often involved the cooperation of local police, immigration officials, and airport security." 

Bride Kidnapping (Ala Kachuu)

Bride kidnapping (ala kachuu in Kyrgyz), is a practice that is still prevalent and possibly increasing in Kyrgyzstan. The practice involves the taking of an unwilling young woman by a young man for the purpose of nonconsensual marriage. Said kidnappings can occur in rural and urban areas of the country. There are characteristics of ala kachuu that are similar to those of trafficking in women.

The practice of bride kidnapping is illegal but enforcement of laws against it is rare, and there is evidence to suggest the practice has been increasing, in rural areas of Kyrgyzstan in particular. The Public Broadcasting System reported that "It has been estimated that up to a third of all ethnic Kyrgyz women in Kyrgyzstan may have been wedded in nonconsensual bride kidnappings."  

Compiled from:

2007 Country Report on Human Rights Practices: Kyrgyzstan, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, U.S. Department of State, 11 March 2008.

U.S. Department of State Trafficking in Persons Report, 2007

“Violence Against Women – A Baseline Assessment, 2008”, Anara Moldosheva

“Preventing Human Trafficking in Kyrgyzstan Project” Winrock International, 2005

"Kyrgyzstan Struggles to Stop Slave Trade", Aigul Rasulova, Eurasianet.org, 29 June 2004.

"Kyrgyzstan--The Kidnapped Bride", Frontline World, Public Broadcasting System, March 2004.

Integration of the Human Rights of Women and the Gender Perspective - Violence Against Women, Addendum 1, Radhika Coomaraswamy, Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, 27 Feb. 2003. (PDF, 435 pages). 

Women 2000- An Investigation into the Status of Women's Rights in Central and South-Eastern Europe and the Newly Independent States, International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights, 5 November 2000. (PDF, 13 pages).