Domestic violence in Kyrgyzstan

`So, as long as no-one is killed, domestic violence won’t be considered a crime?’




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Kazakhstan has recently passed a law that will criminalise domestic violence.


This is the second attempt to solve a problem which is particularly serious at the moment, with the whole country following the high-profile trial of the former National Economy Minister accused of murdering his wife. Meanwhile, the press is reporting new cases of women being beaten and abused.


Authorities in Kazakhstan say they are committed in their efforts to solve the problem of domestic violence. However, human rights activists who offer help to victims are coming under pressure and, in some cases, even subject to criminal prosecution.


The situation is similar in Kyrgyzstan but, unlike our near neighbour, deputies have yet to decide whether to incorporate amendments to the Criminal Code that would allow domestic abusers to be prosecuted. has been finding out why.


Statistics versus proposals


For the second year in a row, the Kyrgyzstan Republic has been recognised as the most dangerous country in Central Asia, according to a Women’s Peace and Security Index (WPS) report. It states that 13% of Kyrgyzstan women have been victims of domestic violence. Figures from the Ministry of Internal Affairs support these statistics, with 2,523 cases of abuse reported during the first two months of 2024.


Internal Affairs agencies have issued 2,247 temporary restraining orders. Under Article 70 (Domestic Violence) of the Criminal Code, 764 charge sheets were recorded, 727 of which were referred to the courts. 204 individuals were given community service and 396 kept under arrest for 15 days.


The Ministry has also promised to launch an app called KADES in order to help women in distress but little progress has been made in its development thus far.


The Ministry of Justice has also joined in the efforts to solve the problem by recommending the use of electronic tags to track a suspect’s location, movement and actions. “The technology may become a mandatory element of control over citizens in respect of whom operational and investigative work is carried out”, say officials.


National deputies are not sitting on the sidelines either. Dinara Ashimova co-authored amendments to the law “On Protection and Defence against Domestic Violence” that would require an abuser to leave the home, accompanied by the police. At present, as we know, this unspoken rule only applies to victims.


It appears that measures are being taken and that the State is responding – at least it tries to. But why is the number of battered and emotionally abused women in families increasing?


If he beats you up, he’ll end up in prison


The offender must know full well that he will go to prison – there’s no way of avoiding jail time. Experts see imprisonment as being the solution.


“No country in the world has yet been able to impose a prison sentence for every offence but even so, our system has to work better. Our society must develop a very firm and unambiguous attitude towards domestic violence. Expressions such as “beatings are an expression of love” must disappear from public discourse”, said retired police colonel Alexander Zelichenko.


Zelichenko also says that any form of violence is a serious offence and that police inaction only encourages the criminal. This was the case with the kidnapping and murder of a young woman Aizada Kanatbekova whose abduction was treated as a joke by law enforcement officers.


The attitude of some deputies who justify “bride kidnapping” is totally unacceptable. This is not some ancient and quaint custom but a criminally punishable act that involves seizing and holding a person against his or her will. It is worth remembering here how the parliamentarian Meikinbek Abdaliyev sided with the criminals, telling his colleagues that stealing cattle was a more serious crime than kidnapping young girls and women for forced marriages and said that the latter “is just an old Kyrgyz tradition”.


Alexander Zelichenko believes that such remarks from high-ranking deputies would not be heard if society as a whole made it clear that no abuse, not even the slightest, is ever acceptable against women. This could then force both politicians and law enforcers to take responsibility for their actions.


Action is needed


It is clear that domestic violence should be criminalised, using Kazakhstan as a useful case study. Amendments approved by their Parliament have transferred the articles on beatings and inflicting minor harm to health from the Administrative to the Criminal Code.


According to, the text introduces criminal liability for battery and deliberate inflicting of minor harm to health.


The types of punishment remain the same – a fine and/or arrest, but with the amounts and length of terms having increased. For battery, the fine will now be $650 and the term of arrest up to 25 days, compared to $80 and 10 days previously.


In addition, according to the amendments, liability for the deliberate inflicting of medium and serious harm will be strengthened. The law excludes the possibility of a reconciliation between the parties in cases involving physical violence and child cruelty, as well as in instances of repeated criminal acts one year after reconciliation.


The legislative text also introduces life sentences for murder, rape and violent sexual acts against minors “by excluding other forms of punishments provided for under the Criminal Code”, which will also include a new article on sexual harassment of teenagers under 16 years of age.


The law also provides for the introduction of prison sentences for acts that result in suicide, or as an inducement to suicide. Preparation of suicide literature will also incur a fine.


Under Kyrgyzstan’s Criminal Code, domestic violence is currently punishable by 40 hours of community service or administrative detention from three to seven days. Human rights activists are demanding that the offence itself be criminalised and toughened by increasing the amount of the fine and period of detention.


It is also proposed that the police and the courts be held liable for inaction to ensure there is no repeat of the tragic cases involving Aizada and Burulai Turdaaly Kyzy, who was stabbed to death in a police station in 2018 when officials left her and her attacker in a room together. Meanwhile, society is acting as a silent witness, looking on as the authorities continue to demonstrate wanton disrespect for women and openly violating their rights.


According to former Ombudsman Atyr Abdrakhmatova, all cases of domestic violence, harassment of women and in the workplace should be publicised and publicly condemned. However, this cannot be done without support from the authorities.


“Everyone must realise that any violation of women’s rights will be punished accordingly. Every girl and woman should feel protected by the State and its officials and not vice versa”, said Atyr.


Gender expert Zhanna Arayeva said that “in Kyrgyzstan, girls and women live in an environment of systemic violence and harassment”. The troubling statistics confirm that no effective measures are currently being taken, with too much talk and not enough action.


As long as attitudes from the highest ministerial official down to the lowly village policeman that abuse “is always the woman’s fault” and “it’s not a beating, it’s educating”, domestic violence will not be seen as a crime and that the awful figures of ill-treatment will continue to rise.




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