Summary: Kyrgyz President signs legislation providing greater protection for victims of domestic violence

29 April 2017: In a landmark decision, Kyrgyzstan has adopted legislation to better protect victims of domestic violence. In 2015 SRT grantee Open Line was part of the working group that first drafted the amended law. It has since led on the communications used by a nation-wide women’s rights campaign to lobby the Kyrgyz president. Using creative television, radio and online tools – including interactive videos – Open Line is now ensuring that people across the country find out about and understand the changes in the law, especially the two thirds who live in rural areas.

Domestic violence is extremely prevalent in Kyrgyzstan, with a quarter of married women experiencing abuse according to official figures. Discussing domestic violence is largely considered taboo and a breach of family honour, and women have few escape routes. Kyrgyz human and women’s human rights groups including Open Line have been campaigning for improved victim protection since 2009, but proposed changes to the law stalled when the government was overthrown in 2010. Parliament later revisited the issue and the law was finally passed this year.

The new legislation, which was approved by President Almazbek Atambayev on 28 April, substantially revises Kyrgyzstan’s existing domestic violence laws. New protections ensure that:

  • Police will be required to respond to every reported incident of domestic abuse, where previously they were unable to investigate or press charges unless the victim herself filed a report;
    • Every victim will now receive a ‘protection order’: a document ensuring protection for the victim and helping prevent reprisal by the offender or their relatives for a minimum of three days. Previously in order to get a protection order a victim had to prove in court that the violence had take place;
    • Intimidation of relatives of victims has been criminalised;
    • Child victims of domestic abuse will receive quicker referral to child welfare specialists, and
    • Doctors uncovering evidence of physical abuse of children will now be required to immediately report this without notifying the child’s parents.
    • The legislation also criminalises ‘economic violence’, in which the victim is prevented from seeking work and kept at home against her will.

Article with further information about the new law:

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