Tag Archives: womens’ rights

Women in region march against violence

MARCH 8 (The Bulletin) — Women in Central Asia and the South Caucasus’ biggest cities marched in protests against domestic violence on International Women’s Day. The region, known for its unreformed macho overtones, has one of the worst records in the world for domestic violence. Activists have said the coronavirus lockdowns have exacerbated the issue. Last year the women’s rights march in Bishkek was attacked by masked men. This year it passed off without incident.


— This story was published in issue 475 of the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin, on March 15 2021

— Copyright the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin 2021

Kyrgyz MPs debate increased punishments for domestic abuse

JUNE 19 (The Bulletin) — MPs in Kyrgyzstan debated increasing fines for domestic abuse after a video went viral of a woman standing with her hands tied behind her back as her husband poured cold water over her head and slapped her. Activists have said that Kyrgyzstan, a notoriously macho society, is too soft on domestic abuse. Reports said that police have arrested the man in the video.


— This story was first published in issue 451 of the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin, published on June 23 2020

— Copyright the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin 2020

Coordinator of Kyrgyz feminist exhibition says she was attacked

DEC. 26 2019 (The Bulletin) — Aigul Karabalina, one of the coordinators of the Feminale exhibition in Bishkek that promoted women’s rights, said that she had been attacked in the street. She linked the attack, in which she suffered concussion and a bruise under her eye, with what she said was a misogynistic backlash against Feminale. She now wants to leave the country. Activists have said that the government has not done enough to promote women’s rights.

— This story was first published in issue 432 of the weekly Bulletin on Dec. 27 2019

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Kyrgyz feminist exhibition organiser quits after death threats

BISHKEK/Dec. 3 (The Bulletin) –Mira Dzhangaracheva, the director of Kyrgyzstan’s National Museum of Fine Arts, said that she had resigned her position after receiving deaths threats links to a feminist exhibition.

The exhibition, called Feminale, which has been shown in the museum since Nov. 28, has shocked most ordinary Kyrgyz. Dedicated to the 17 Kyrgyz migrant women workers who died in a fire in 2016 at the Moscow printing house they were working in, the exhibition’s organisers said that their mission was to promote women’s rights in Kyrgyzstan’s staunchly macho and conservative society.

Exhibits included a boxing punch bag shaped like the torso of a woman, a Danish performance artist wandering around a room naked and various references to nudity.

But while the show has earned praise from Bishkek’s younger, liberal-minded millennials, it has also generated criticism. Delegations of Kyrgyz elders have visited government offices to demand that the show is closed. Employees of the museum and artists, including Ms Dzhangaracheva, said that they have received death threats.

The government stepped in and removed some of the more provocative exhibits, the ones it said showed “nude women in a temple of art”.

Now, Ms Dzhangaracheva , the National Fine Art Museum director, has said that it is safer for her to quit rather than try to see off the conservatives who she said have stymied artistic expression in Kyrgyzstan.

“Over the past five days there have been so many threats to me personally and my employees and to the organisers of this Feminale that I worry about our people,” she told the Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty website in an interview.

Women, gay and minorities’ rights in Kyrgyzstan have been worsening according to activists.
Human Rights Watch said of the government’s decision to block part of the Feminale exhibition: “Rather than limiting public access to thought-provoking art, the Kyrgyz government should protect its creators against threats of violence and support freedom of expression, including about women’s rights.”

— This story was first published in issue 431 of the weekly Bulletin on Dec. 9 2019

Copyright owned by the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin

Kazakh city mayor sacked after rape of schoolgirl

NOV. 22 (The Bulletin) — Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev sacked the mayor of Taraz, a town of 350,000 people in the south of the country, after a 12-year-old girl was raped in the latrine of her school. The rape sparked outrage in Taraz at the lack of care and oversight at the school. Reuters reported that 30% of schools in Kazakhstan still use outdoor latrines.

— This story was first published in issue 430 of the weekly Bulletin.

Georgia ratifies domestic violence convention

MAY 20 2017 (The Conway Bulletin) — Georgia became the first country in the former Soviet Union to ratify the Council of Europe’s Istanbul Convention aimed at increasing punishment for domestic violence, media reported. The Convention increases police powers and sets up a series of 24-hour telephone lines to report domestic violence.


Copyright ©The Conway Bulletin — all rights reserved

(News report from Issue No. 330, published on May 28 2017)


HRW praises new Kyrgyz domestic violence laws

BISHKEK, MAY 9 2017 (The Conway Bulletin) — The New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) praised Kyrgyzstan for introducing new laws surrounding domestic violence, describing them as setting an important new standard for the region.

Activists have complained that domestic violence has largely gone unchecked and ignored by the male- dominated societies of Central Asia. They consider the introduction of the laws which make reporting domestic violence easier, as reported in issue 327 of The Conway Bulletin, to be groundbreaking.

Hillary Margolis, women’s rights researcher at HRW, said: “By enacting this new law, the Kyrgyz government has shown a commitment to the rights of domestic abuse victims and is setting a standard that others in the region should follow.”

The new laws improve protection for the victims of domestic violence and also validate that a complaint made by anybody about domestic violence has to be investigated by the police. Previously only a complaint by the direct victim had to be investigated and often these victims were reluctant to come forward.

HRW said that domestic violence was widespread in Kyrgyzstan, affecting a third of women. It said that only around half the cases were reported and, even then, only 7% were referred to courts as criminal cases.

It is a similar story across the region. Last year, in Kazakhstan, the issue of domestic violence was thrust into the mainstream when the popular TV host Bayan Yessentayeva was beaten by her husband at a petrol station outside Almaty. In subsequent interviews, women’s rights campaigners described domestic abuse as rampant because of a mix of heavy drinking and macho attitudes which subjugate women.

Referring to Kyrgyzstan, HRW said that the new laws needed to be backed-up by a change to the mindset.

“The new domestic violence law will only be meaningful if its promise is backed by action to make better protection for victims a reality,” Ms Margolis, from HRW, said.


Copyright ©The Conway Bulletin — all rights reserved

(News report from Issue No. 328, published on May 12 2017)


Domestic violence law in Kyrgyzstan becomes strengthened

APRIL 28 2017 (The Conway Bulletin) — Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambayev signed into law a bill that is designed to strengthen legislation against domestic violence. The new law obliges police to investigate all reports of domestic violence even if the complaint was not filed by the victim.


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(News report from Issue No. 327, published on May 5 2017)

Domestic violence rises in Azerbaijan

NOV. 29 2016 (The Conway Bulletin) — Giving a rare insiders’ view of domestic life in Azerbaijan, MP Elmira Akhundova said that violence against women by their husbands was rising. Media quoted her as saying that punishments must be increased for men who kill or injure their wives. Official government statistics have said that domestic violence in Azerbaijan has halved over the past couple of years because, the authorities have said, of harsh new punishments. Activists, though, have refuted this and said that the government simply makes up the numbers for its own benefit.


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(News report from Issue No. 307, published on Dec. 2 2016)

Kazakh women’s rights leaders ambivalent on Dariga as future president

ALMATY, OCT. 21 2016 (The Conway Bulletin) — Dariga Nazarbayeva, daughter of Kazakh president Nursultan Nazarbayev, may have been promoted to the Senate in a reshuffle last month, and is now being touted as a presidential successor, but many women appear ambivalent on supporting her candidacy.

The issue of who will succeed president Nursultan Nazarbayev, 76, as next president dominates Kazakh politics but Ms Nazarbayeva, 53, is a divisive figure and she fails to generate mass support among what should be her natural support base — women — as interviews with women’s rights advocates suggested.

Dina Smailova, who heads a group fighting domestic and sexual violence called ‘Don’t be silent’, said that while Ms Nazarbayeva had been supportive of their work, she may not be the right person to lead the country.

“I can view her candidacy as a woman who is educated, a modern woman but why not consider another candidate?” she said.

Women’s rights and domestic abuse moved into the mainstream in Kazakhstan this year after a well- known female TV presenter was badly beaten up by her husband at a petrol station outside Almaty.

According to the UN, 500 women are killed each year in Kazakhstan by their partners.

Aida Alzhanova, chair of Adam Damu charity and a former UN expert for women’s equality said Ms Nazarbayeva had not done enough to promote women’s rights.

“I didn’t know Dariga was promoting women’s rights,” she said. “Here gender inequality in politics and business is gradually moving into the domestic sphere.”

She did say, though, that she would consider supporting Ms Nazarbayeva.

“If she wins in a fair election and if she has a clear gender policy that fits with international norms and standards, then I will vote for her,” she said.

The third women’s rights leader interviewed by The Conway Bulletin said that she would support Dariga Nazarbayeva if she wanted to become president.

“I want to believe that if a woman becomes president there will be pos- itive changes in the country,” said Marianna Gurina, president of the Ulagatty Zhanuya charity, which pro- motes family values and women’s rights.

“Yes, I support her candidacy because I think she, as a woman understands women.”


Copyright ©The Conway Bulletin — all rights reserved

(News report from Issue No. 301, published on Oct. 21 2016)