Project report: a safe community for the women of Soghd region

Grant recipient: NGO “Sarchashma”, Tajikistan 
Project: Training Women’s Councils in southern jamoats, and raising awareness, working with men and boys as well as women and girls 

We want to see women and the whole community learn how to protect themselves and their loved ones from violence, to be the guardians of a safe society in matters of gender equality, to show tolerance for victims of abuse, and to work together in resolving conflicts as they arise.  

This is the vision that our organisation has been trying to achieve for the past seven years. During our work to try and keep families together, we have been increasingly confronted with instances of violence against women. For generations, gender stereotyping has led us all to “normalise” abuse and put the blame on women, thereby justifying the behaviour of perpetrators who must be held responsible for their crimes of physical and emotional abuse of women. 

We decided to concentrate our efforts in this area as domestic violence is one of the causes of family breakdown. So, in 2013, we began organising activities to help prevent violence against women. Each year, we have organised training courses for women from the mahallahs, university and lyceum students and school pupils and run information campaigns to raise public awareness of the impacts of violence. Beginning with the central cities of the Soghd region, we have continued to train women from one jamaat to another. 

In February 2020, the Eva B jamaat of Ghafurov District and the Gulyakandoz jamaat in Jabbor Rasulov were on the waiting list. Our resources only allowed us to reach a small number of beneficiaries. But with the support of the BEARR Trust, we were able to add to this group in July and achieve the following results: 

  1. Thirteen female activists from women’s councils and 83 women from jamaats received training on how to be safe from violence and on the “Prevention of Domestic Violence” law. Seven training sessions were held from 29 September to 1 December last year. Six of these were run jointly with the head of the Jabbor Rasulov Area’s Women and the Family Committee and the mahallah committees of the Gulyakandoz jamaat as part of a bilateral agreement between the Social Legal Centre “Sarchashma” and the Jabbor Rasulov District’s Committee on Women and the Family. 
  2. Ninety-two teachers from seven schools received training which they will pass on to their students as part of their extracurricular activities (30 and 62 teachers from the Yova and Gulyakandoz jamaats respectively). The training was conducted with support from the head of the Committee on Women and the Family of the Jabbor Rasulov District. 

The training covered the following topics: 1. What is violence and how many kinds of violence are there?; 2. The protection of women from violence throughout the world; 3. The national situation and Republic of Tajikistan legislation on women’s rights and protection from violence and 4. Zone of danger – family, institutions and relationships between adults and children. 

The teachers were very pleased to have taken part in the training courses and in the process acquired a lot of valuable knowledge that can be applied in their daily work. Many of the participants had no idea of the violence being committed against women and so were grateful to have received the training. 

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  1. 180 boys (senior school students) were educated on the problems of violence.  

The instructors also provided training for senior school students and also showed one of their classes to teachers I five schools who had successfully passed their training course.  

In addition, 45 male students from the Vocational Services Lyceum in Khujand were educated on the effect of violence committed against women. The training took place during academic hours and was included as part of the Lyceum’s general curriculum. 

A training course for 45 third-year students on the theme “What is violence? Proper relationships in a family without violence” was held on 10 December, supported by the Deputy Head of the Education Department of Tajikistan’s State University and also attended by representatives from the office of the Khujand City Registrar. 

4. Two events were organised on the theme “A family without violence” in collaboration with the Committees on Women and the Family in the Khujand and the Jabbor and Rasulov Districts and was attended by 2,000 people. 

5. The first event took place on 25 November on Panjshanbe market square in Khujand and was attended by 1,400 people. On the day, 50 married men were presented with a rose with an appeal to them to be the guardians of their families and to speak out against violence: “Give flowers to your wife and tell her that you love her”. A thousand booklets with information about the problem of violence and the addresses of support organisations, were handed out to the women. The men received 400 cards with words of thanks, including a list of qualities that are possessed by real men. 

A similar event was held on 26 November at the request of the head of the Committee on Women and the Family at the Jabbor and Rasulov District’s “Ashrof” market which was attended by 600 people. 500 information booklets for women, together with 100 cards and 10 roses among family men, were handed out on the day. The aim of the event was to reach a large number of men of different ages and educate them about protecting women against violence. 

The location was deliberately chosen because it’s always crowded and has a wide cross-section of society, both men and women. All the event’s organisers wore distinctive orange scarves, with the colour chosen to symbolise love and the fight to prevent violence against women. Our event marked the start of the “16 days against gender violence” information campaign, which is held annually from 25 November to 10 December, and supported by government agencies and CSOs. 

The event was held with the participation of men and active women volunteers from Khujand, together with representatives of the Committee on Women and the Family of Soghd Province and the city, employees from “Sarchashma”, CSO partners and the media.|1|c

On 4 December last year, a project meeting was held between women’s councils of Jabbor Rasulov District, organised jointly with the District’s Women and the Family Committee. It was attended by 14 women, including five women’s councils from the Gulyakandoz jamaat and active women’s representatives from the health centre, the registrar’s office and the Director of the Jabbor Rasulov Regional Authority. The meeting took place in Khukumat in Jabbor Rasulov oblast where attendees were able to share the results of their joint work and experiences, talk about their successes, and encourage cooperation between all mahallah women’s councils.

Thanks to financial support from the BEARR Trust, we have been able to get closer to achieving our goal. The more people are educated and aware of the impact of violence, the less abuse there will be in our country.

Contact details:
Lyubov Fedotova
Executive director of SLC “Sarchashma”
Photos: Bakhrom Ashurov

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