We suggest you an abridged version of the Report of the international human rights organization Human Rights Watch- Violence at every step. Inadequate State Response to the Problem of Domestic Violence in Tajikistan”«VIOLENCE WITH EVERY STEP»
The Tajik authorities take insufficient efforts to investigate and prosecute domestic violence, and the situation with assistance to victims is far from satisfactory.
We’ve investigated country response to domestic violence through interviews with survivors of domestic violence, service providers, police, activists, government agencies, doctors, psychologists, and international donors and advisors in July and August 2015, July and September 2016, and follow-up interviews between August 2018 and March 2019.
The present report recognizes the progress that has been made, but also documents stark problems with the government’s response, including with respect to offering protection and services, investigating and prosecuting cases, and penalizing perpetrators.
The present report and its recommendations focus on violence against women by male partners and their relatives, including mothers-in-law. Among the perpetrators are almost representatives of all social groups.
Examples of violence types that survivors of domestic violence faced:
Marital rape, including anal rape, and rape with various objects;
Beatings with a brick, a shovel, a broom, a fireplace poker, a stick, a chair, and other sharp and heavy objects;
Having a burning brick placed on the face;
Stabbing with a knife;
Being struck in the face with an iron;
Confinement in an outdoor garage in cold weather;
Suspension from the ceiling for hours;
Forcing a spouse to stand still in certain positions holding buckets filled with water;
Depriving a spouse of meals, access to the kitchen, the toilet, and clothing;
Manual strangulation, and with a necklace, or with cellophane over the head.
The exact number of women who experience violence at the hands of a partner is unknown, as the government does not systematically monitor the issue. But experts, including sociologists, government officials, international researchers, lawyers, and service providers with whom we spoke in various regions of Tajikistan, report that violence against women remains pervasive today in Tajik society, often taking on severe forms and even including murder and incitement to suicide.
According to a 2016 study performed by the research organization Tahlil va Mashvarat (Analysis and Advice), the Committee on Women and Family Affairs (CWFA) and Oxfam, which interviewed 400 people across six regions of Tajikistan, 97 percent of men and 72 percent of women believed that a woman must tolerate violence to keep her family together.
According to the Government of Tajikistan’s sixth periodic report to the CEDAW Committee in 2017, covering the period 2013-2017, a total of 1,296 complaints of domestic abuse were made to police, of which 1,036 were investigated by district police inspectors, and 260 by specially-appointed and trained inspectors for the prevention of domestic violence. 996 of those filed were complaints against men, compared with 296 made against women.
Only 65 criminal prosecutions were initiated under various articles of the Criminal Code. Criminal prosecutions were declined in 1,003 cases, 131 cases were pending, and 76 complaints were sent for investigation.
In 2013, following a 10-year advocacy effort by civil society groups, Tajikistan passed its first ever law addressing domestic violence, the Law on the Prevention of Violence in the Family (hereinafter Family Violence Law), which, while making key advances in the protection of women, left critical gaps.
The law doesn’t criminalize domestic violence (appropriate articles that provide administrative measures are placed only in the Code of administrative violations). Victims seeking prosecution and punishment of the abuser must bring claims under articles of the Tajik Criminal Code that govern assault and similar acts involving force or violence. The law doesn’t determine the term “family” and, according to the interpretation of several experts and women’s rights lawyers, leaves women who are divorced or in polygamous, child, or unregistered marriages unprotected.
In 2014, the government adopted State program on prevention of domestic violence in the Republic of Tajikistan for 2014-2023 and Action Plan for the implementation of the law. It also adopted a revised Code of Administrative Offenses specifying liability for violations under the Family Violence Law, introduced new conditions for issuing restraining orders and revised the Police Act, which adds measures for the prevention of domestic violence to the duties of police officers. A national hotline has been set up to refer survivors of family and sexual violence to services.
However, as this report demonstrates, much remains to be done.
Six years after it was passed, the Family Violence Law has not been adequately implemented
The law aims to make it easier for victims of family violence to get protection orders and services. Yet advocates and the survivors that we interviewed said that, with a few exceptions, police rarely take family violence seriously.
They often refuse to pursue investigations, issue protection orders, or arrest people who commit domestic violence, even in cases where the violence is severe, including attempted murder, serious physical harm, and repeated rape. Sometimes police tell victims it’s a “family matter” and send them away.
They often fail to investigate cases that occur in rural areas, where there is little government presence and where police might have to travel long distances to conduct investigations, telling victims it is their responsibility to bring the perpetrator to the police station.
There is a dire lack of services for domestic violence survivors. Tajikistan has a total of four shelters for victims of domestic violence for a population of nearly nine million people, far short of the minimum called for in international standards. Long-term shelters for survivors and access to state-subsidized and affordable housing are badly needed.
Many women have little or no income of their own and rely on the support of their breadwinning, and abusive, partners. Women often fear sending an abusive partner to prison, as it would mean the loss of his income, and they and their children cannot survive without the financial support. Fathers often fail to support their children financially after a separation, and courts rarely enforce maintenance orders.
The government offers no financial assistance to survivors of domestic violence, even those with dependent children. Many women stay in abusive relationships, or even try to get abusive husbands who have abandoned them to return, simply because the alternative is that they and their children go hungry. Others stay because they fear losing custody of their children, as they have little ability to seek and enforce custody through the courts.
The government needs to lead the work to end domestic violence in Tajikistan. In addition to its ongoing efforts, it should, as a matter of urgency:
Adopt or amend legislation to criminalize all forms of gender-based violence, including domestic violence, marital rape, and sexual assault within and outside marriage;
Ensure that all reports of gender-based violence against women are duly investigated, that perpetrators are prosecuted in fair trials.
Ensure access to the victims to services, including shelters, medical and psychosocial care, legal assistance, and socioeconomic support, and to civil remedies, such as divorce and equitable distribution of property;
Provide state-funded social housing to protect particularly vulnerable people, including survivors of domestic violence for a period of six months pending the identification of long-term solutions, and increase the number of state-funded shelters available, especially in rural areas, and where possible ensure that such shelters are run in cooperation with NGOs.
Ensure the Committee on Women and the Family and the Ministries of Health, Justice and Internal Affairs has dedicated resources to implement the Family Violence Law.
Ensure effective access to free legal aid, including for court representation, as well as medical, psychological and psychosocial assistance, shelter, rehabilitation and reintegration programs, for all women and girls who are victims of domestic violence, including in rural areas;
Collect and publish data on cases of all forms of violence against women and girls disaggregated by type of violence, perpetrator, age and ethnicity of the victim, and on the number of complaints received, investigations carried out, prosecutions conducted and sentences imposed on perpetrators; and on the number of victims who have received such assistance, disaggregated by age, ethnicity, and geographical area;
Amend existing legislation to provide that courts have discretion to rule that a survivor of domestic violence may avoid the Vselenie remedy, which places a woman back in the home of her former in-laws, and that will allow her to live in rented accommodation where the rent will be covered by the perpetrator;
Increase the number of state-funded shelters available for victims of domestic violence, especially in rural areas, and where possible ensure that such shelters are run in cooperation with NGOs;
Provide access to state-funded social housing to protect particularly vulnerable people, including survivors of domestic violence pending the identification of long-term solutions;
Geographic, social and economic context
Because early marriage limits young married girls’ knowledge and skills, resources, social support networks, mobility, and autonomy, they often have little power in relation to their husband or his family.
Strongly correlated with the trend toward earlier marriages for women in Tajikistan, women’s educational attainment in the post-Soviet period has declined precipitously. Despite compulsory primary and secondary education in Tajikistan, children from poor families, especially girls, frequently drop out before completing the currently required nine years of schooling.
Women’s lower levels of educational attainment in Tajikistan can in some cases further reinforce patriarchal attitudes within families that diminish a woman’s autonomy and control over the most important decisions affecting her and her children, and which also may enable violence against women.Victims of domestic violence told HRW about situations where husband, mother-in-law, or husband other relatives didn't allow them to leave the house until the injuries are heal over.
There is a critical lack of shelters and other services where survivors of domestic violence can seek accommodation and protection in an emergency. International standards, such as those of the CoE, offer guidance on shelter provision. The European human rights body, albeit of which Tajikistan is not a member, recommends that “… where shelters are the predominant/only form of service provision, there should be one place per 10,000 population… There should be at least one specialist violence against women shelter in every province/region.” By this calculation, Tajikistan should have at least 870 shelter beds for women fleeing domestic violence, and at least one shelter in each of the country’s five administrative divisions and 58 districts.
There is a total of four privately-run shelters for victims of domestic violence in Tajikistan: two in the capital, Dushanbe, one in Khujand in the northern Sughd province, and one in Kulob in southern Tajikistan. At time of writing, another shelter was being opened in Bokhtar. These shelters house a maximum of 10 women in each shelter at any one time, far fewer in the case of Gulrukhsor, the shelter in Khujand, and the amount of time a woman can stay depends on each specific shelter, but generally does not exceed six months.
At the centers, survivors and abusers, often a wife and her husband, often go through couples counseling aimed at reconciliation, in many cases facilitated by center staff. Several representatives of various crisis centers, OSCE women’s resource centers, and other public organizations who often are frontline providers of services to survivors of domestic violence emphasized that they believed their role was to reconcile husbands and wives in cases of abuse and to do whatever possible to preserve the family unit and actively discourage divorce, regardless of domestic violence Preservation of family unity is highly valued, and Tajik society strongly stigmatizes divorced women, perceiving them as having lower societal status.
There is virtually no individual psychosocial counseling for survivors of domestic violence in Tajikistan. While women’s resource centers provide what they call “counseling,” this is primarily short-term couples’ counseling or mediation, with the goal of reconciling couples. It is not professional and skilled counseling designed to support women in their own self-determination.
There are few lawyers in Tajikistan and even less access to free legal aid. Following legislative amendments introduced in 2015 to the law on lawyers, the independence of Tajikistan’s legal profession was restricted and a number of lawyers were deprived of their legal licenses or excluded in other ways from practicing law. Prior to the changes, Tajikistan had approximately 2,000 registered lawyers. Following the passage of the new law, fewer than 500 are able to practice law for a population of nearly nine million, a ratio of approximately one lawyer per 18,000 inhabitants.
Published on September 19, 2019