IWPR - Institute for War & Peace Reporting
CENTRAL ASIA CONFERENCE ON ABUSE OF WOMEN
Women’s rights experts, activists and politicians from across Central Asia came away from an IWPR conference on domestic abuse saying learning about issues facing colleagues in other countries would give new impetus to their own efforts to tackle the problem.
The round-table forum on March 29-30 was
It was an opportunity for activists to meet government officials, judges, police, and journalists from across the region to share experiences on drafting legislation and taking practical action to end violence against women.
Although violence against women is common in the Central Asian states, there is a reluctance to talk about it openly since many victims feel only shame, and others believe it is an area of private family life where the state should not intervene.
“The concealed nature of domestic violence obstructs an assessment of the extent of the problem,” Irina Unjakova, who chairs Status, a women’s association in Kazakstan, said.
The debate reinforced participants’ conviction that cultural relativism – saying criminal action is “allowed” by a specific culture or religion, or excusable because of social and economic conditions – does not hold water.
“This is a universal problem; it’s identical in every country in the region,” Abakhon Sultonnazarov, IWPR Central Asia regional director, said.
Bubusara Ryskulova, head of the Sezim
crisis centre in
“We’ve heard about what governments are
doing, the experience of NGOs, and media coverage of the issue not only in our
country but also in
Innovative ideas that might be copied
elsewhere include a scheme in
Nasrullo Mahmudov, a member of the parliamentary group drafting the final bill, said it should go before legislators later this year.
“This round-table has helped me see how
things changed in Kazakstan and
Noting the public debate generated by the campaign, Supreme Court judge Larisa Kabilova said that “moreover, this round-table has discussed additional issues that will feed into the process of passing this law”.
At the meeting, women’s rights activists cautioned that simply passing progressive laws was not enough; governments needed to ensure the will and the money was there to ensure they were put into practice.
The meeting generated a set of practical
recommendations for state institutions in
As well as discussions, the event also showcased film screenings and a photographic exhibition on domestic violence themes.
The films will be distributed among women’s
rights groups and others. Lola Otaboeva, a colonel in