Tajikistan: High Female Suicide Rates Linked to Unchecked Domestic Violence
Tuesday, June 2, 2009 8:50 AM

The Institute for War and Peace Reporting recently published an article by Mukammal Odinaeva titled "Female Suicide 'Epidemic' in Tajikistan". In this article Odinaeva examines the reasons behind the high suicide rate among females in Tajikistan, finding that one of the root causes is uncontrolled domestic violence. Tajik women are often not aware of their rights and do not know how to escape domestic abuse. In 2008, between January and September, there were 240 cases of female suicide recorded in Tajikistan. Experts believe that these numbers are actually much higher because many deaths are misreported.

There are a number of reasons why women commit and attempt to commit suicide at such high rates in Tajikistan, including domestic abuse, sexual assault, husbands committing adultery, and husbands taking a second wife. Polygamy is illegal in Tajikistan but continues to occur frequently.

Women feel trapped in unhappy, often abusive, marriages. Leaving is usually not an option because there is a stigma around divorced women and their own families may not even take them back. These women see suicide as the only option to end their suffering. Domestic abuse is further complicated in Tajikistan by the fact that people do not talk about domestic problems. Crimes committed within a family are hidden and the perpetrators are not punished.

There is currently no particular legislation in Tajikistan addressing domestic violence. Cases can be brought under common assault laws, yet many women fear going to the police because they don't think they will get a fair hearing. However, domestic violence legislation is in the process of being drafted at this time.

Compiled from: Female Suicide "Epidemic" in Tajikistan, Mukammal Odinaeva, Institute for War and Peace Reporting, (7 May 2009).