Human rights group urges Tajikistan to combat domestic violence

A report issued by Amnesty International calls on the government of Tajikistan to treat violence against women as a crime and prosecute offenders.

Nigina Sharipova

2009-12-02

TAJIKISTAN ― A report issued by the human rights organisation, Amnesty International, calls on the government of Tajikistan to treat violence against women as a crime and prosecute offenders. It characterised Tajik government efforts to resolve the issue of domestic violence as inadequate.

The report published Nov. 24 claims that despite having ratified the relevant international treaty on human rights, Tajikistan is neglecting its obligations to protect and implement the rights of women.

The report asserts that violence against women, and particularly violence within the family, is a widespread occurrence in Tajikistan. It reveals that between one third and half of all Tajik women regularly face physical, psychological or sexual abuse at the hands of their husbands or in-laws. It also asserts that the attitude of the Tajik authorities towards the problem is that women themselves are the source of domestic violence.

One of its authors, Andrea Strasser-Camagni, commented that Tajik authorities "see their primary role as mediator, to preserve the family rather than protect women and safeguard their rights."

"Traditional Tajik family values, reinforced after the break-up of the Soviet Union, impose further discrimination on women by narrowing their identity to that of wife and mother, or limiting them into the lowest paid jobs," she contended.

In Tajikistan, after marriage, women become economically dependent on their husbands and in-laws and are often treated as servants or property. "Women have no one to turn to, as the policy of the authorities is to urge reconciliation, which in fact forces women to accept the status quo, reinforcing their inferior status. The experience of violence and humiliation in the family drives many women to suicide," the report states.

The report also notes that there are few organisations to which victims of domestic violence can turn, and those that do exist are generally funded by international organisations and not state or local authorities. In addition, the police, judiciary and medical staffs in Tajikistan are not adequately trained to deal with cases of domestic violence effectively.

To change this dismal situation, the report calls on Tajik authorities to adopt a law on violence in the family, and establish a nationwide service to reduce its occurrence.

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