Although government statistics in Kyrgyzstan indicate that 92 percent of rapes are committed by the victim’s current or former sexual partner, women rarely report sexual assault in Kyrgyzstan. From the law enforcement officials’ unsympathetic attitudes toward marital rape to hospitals’ failures to stock rape kits, the justice system in Kyrgyzstan is not conducive to prosecuting rape cases.
“The prejudice of investigators sends a message to society,” Dmitry Kabak, a prominent activist and head of the Open Viewpoint Foundation, said. “If, instead, law enforcement bodies would actively investigate sexual crimes, it could help stop the daily violence that some people have started calling a tradition.”
In a rare move for a woman in Kyrgyzstan pressed charges against her rapist, Azamat Bekboev, her now ex-husband and a member of a KGB-successor agency. While Bekboev, a GKNB officer with whom the survivor has four children, maintains his innocence, the survivor had to tell her story 30 times in court.
According to the victim, Bekboev and his driver Arzybek Tuuganbaev took her into the suburbs of Bishkek where they both raped and beat her multiple times on June 18, 2011. She also reported that her ex-husband regularly beat her in front of her children and had raped her before. Bekboev claims that his wife was cheating on him with the driver and denies the charges of rape, saying, “How could I rape a woman I had lived with for 14 years? If I had done this, how could I look into my children’s eyes? I would kill myself.”
In May, a military court acquitted both Bekboev and his driver, but on his ex-wife's appeal to a higher military court, both men are standing a second trial, which started earlier this month.
“At the trial he laughs at me, calls me a prostitute,” the survivor said. “It’s so painful that we lived for 14 years together, we have four children together, and he’s blaming me, saying I was cheating on him. I never cheated.”
Elena Tkacheva, the victim’s therapist, points out this behavior and the fact that the victim had to tell her story 30 times as “public humiliation.”
“Her neighbors and his (the ex-husband’s) family see her as a traitor because she spoke about something no one ever speaks about. When violence happens in the family, survivors don’t ask for help,” Tkacheva said.
Neither the courts nor the media provide much support on this issue, according to Tkacheva. The attitude that “the rape of a wife is a sex game” undermines the courts’ ability to take spousal rape seriously while the media suggested that the victim “was stupid, that she should have just relaxed and enjoyed the experience.”
Compiled from: Trilling, David, "KYRGYZSTAN: Rape Trial Spotlights Women's Plight," Inter Press Service, originally from EurasiaNet.org, (20 July 2012).