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Violence Against Women In Tajikistan Criminology Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Criminology
Wordcount: 5506 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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Tajikistan became independent in 1991 following the break up of the Soviet Union. Although the country has gained political stability and economic growth after 1992 -1997 civil war it still remains the poorest of all Central Asian states. 63.5 per cent of the population still lived in poverty with an income less than US$2.15 per day. According to the International Monetary Fund the estimated GDP per capita in 2008 was US$795, only 6 percent of Tajikistan land is arable and mineral resources are limited. Industry is based on one large aluminium plant, hydropower facilities, and small obsolete factories mostly in light industry and food processing. Tajikistan’s economic situation, however, remains fragile due to weak governance, widespread unemployment, and the external debt obligation. According to data from the International Organization for Migration one in every four households has family members regularly seeking jobs abroad. Tajikistan population is 7349,145 (July 2009) and the majority of the population follow Sunni Islam. There is also a minority of Ismailis and Zoroastrianism. But the population of Tajikistan is 98 percent Muslim (approximately 95 percent Sunni and 3 percent Shia).The remaining 2 percent of the population are Jews, Zoroastrians and Orthodox.

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All over the world women are subjected to violence inside and outside their families. Violence against women is one of the most persistent human rights violations, as well as one of the most hidden. In Tajikistan violence against women is quite widespread. According Amnesty International Report one half of women may at some time experience physical and psychological abuse. However, states have international and national obligations to prevent and prosecute it both. In Tajikistan, violence against women is still considered a “family affair” and is not yet recognized as a distinct criminal offence and a human rights violation.

Tajikistan authorities reflect the societal attitude of blaming the woman for domestic violence. They see their primary role as mediator, preserver of the family rather than the woman protector. In many cases the police gather all family members and members of the Mahallah to “mediate” between the parties. It seems that the main responsibility of the police is to “preserve” the family, mediate and not let the children grow up without a father or mother. This is reflected by fact that only 65 cases were opened in 2007 against violent husbands, all of which resulted in a court hearing. In 2008, 85 cases were opened. No information was provided on how many of them had resulted in criminal convictions. One lawyer reported that she had only dealt with one case, where a woman who was subjected of regular domestic violence brought a prosecution against her husband after he had broken her arm. The lawyer believes that the woman had the courage to press charges because she had already separated from her husband and they were no longer living in the same town. “Women living with their husbands usually don’t dare to file a complaint against their perpetrators”, the lawyer said. During the trial the judge put considerable pressure on the woman to seek reconciliation. He started the process with the question: “Do you want to reconcile?” The woman said no, and the husband was sentenced under Article 111 of the Criminal Code (intentional minor bodily injury) to one year in prison.

There are also inadequate assistance services to protect victim of domestic violence. Most of these are provided rather by internationally funded local NGOs than by the state. The police, judiciary and medical staff are not sufficiently trained to deal with cases of domestic violence. Meanwhile, everyday violence against women takes place in Tajikistan. Traditional family structures in Tajikistan society imposed the women role as a wife and mother. The fact, that the majority of women are economically dependent on their husband’s family after the marriage makes their situation even more difficult. They may be subjected to harsh treatment not only from their husbands, but also from their in-laws, and in particular from their mothers-in-law. Panorama, a local NGO, says that 70 per cent of married women in Tajikistan are tormented by their mother-in-law or husband. The police insist that they will not interfere in ‘family matters’. Even if domestic violence does become a criminal offence, it will take a radical change in society’s attitude before the cycle of abuse is broken. Mothers who were beaten in their youth often terrorize their son’s wife in the belief that a hardy Tajik is a good Tajik. Darigha, a 26-year-old mother of three, whose mother-in-law will not allow her to speak in the house, smiles when she says: ‘I take comfort in knowing that I have a son and one day I can make life hell for his wife.’

There are other aspects serving violence against women in Tajikistan. One of them is presents of unregistered marriages. In Tajikistan, there are two marriage procedures: the civil registration in a registry office, ZAGS (Zapis Aktov Grazhdanskogo Sostoyaniya), and nikoh, the traditional, religious marriage under Shari’a law. The official registrations of marriage and divorce, although legal requirements, are seen as costly obligations that can easily be dispensed within favor of the nikoh and taloq. Civil registered gives both parties certain legal rights, like access to property, maintenance, and child custody. The nikoh, on the other hand, is a form of contract that can be broken by the husband alone, without advance warning, and with no penalties. Mullahs are required to check whether marriages have been registered before they proceed with nikoh marriages. However, in practice, this is frequently not done. In addition men’s economic migration quite often means for nikoh wives be divorce over the phone.

A major fact, which contributes to the violence against women, is existence of illegal early marriages, often force union. The minimum legal bride age in Tajikistan is 17 years old, but there are many cases of marriages of under-17-year-olds, sometimes endorsed by a judge, for example in the case of pregnancy. Many of these young girls, often uneducated, found themselves in unregistered and polygamous marriages. They are also more likely to suffer domestic violence. The authorities very rarely punish illegal early marriage. The department for the Regulation of Traditions, Festivities and Rituals has the power to check if a civil marriage registration had been obtained before the religious ceremony is conducted, but again it is failing to do so. It is difficult for women in polygamous marriages to claim their rights as these marriages are unregistered and do not have legal status. Khegai, Margaret, 2002

Furthermore, domestic violence often involves rape or other forms of sexual violence. While rape by a stranger is strongly condemned in Tajik society, rape and sexual violence by a husband or family member is viewed as a taboo topic. Marital rape also is not explicitly defined as a criminal offence in the Criminal Code of Tajikistan. Amnesty International was told by Tajikistani women’s rights activists that women do not report sexual violence by their husbands to the authorities, because they find it difficult to recognize rape or sexual assault by a husband or intimate partner as a crime. Marie Persson-Bottone, a psychologist trainer at a crisis centre for women in Tajikistan, said: “Violations of a woman’s body within the institution of marriage, is frequently justified through cultural values… These cultural values that support a man’s sexual access to his wife is supported by religious and social definitions of women as male property, and sex as part of the obligations for exchange of goods in marriage. These cultural values have consequences on women and men’s sexual relations within the marriage and can lead to sexual abuse, particularly rape.”

Also a victim of violence in order to achieve application of criminal punishment for the attacker has to overcome incorrect treatment of her, involve intimidation, interrogations, being not timely sent to forensic medical examination, inappropriate and tactless carrying out of examination, intrusion into her private life, traumatic confrontations, lack of adequate protection. From: Non-governmental Organizations of Tajikistan, “Shadow Report on the Realization of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women,” Dushanbe, November 2006.  

Education is a key factor to girl’s empowerment. Unfortunately Tajikistan state fails to ensure that girls get an adequate education, which could contribute to decline of violence and discrimination against women in Tajikistan. This causes concern for Amnesty International, as girls are viewed as an economic benefit to another family, so not worth investing in for their own family.

The experience of abuse and violence in the family results in a high number of suicide cases among women. Most women are completely reliant on their husband and his family for financial support and those who don’t have close friends or relatives willing to help are often driven to suicide. ‘Death is better than this daily humiliation,’ says Saima, a 31-year-old mother of four from Rudaki whose husband and in-laws beat her so severely that she set fire to herself. Her husband calls her a ‘disfigured bitch’, refusing to let anyone but the doctor in to see her. He will not pay for her medical bills and repeatedly threatens her with divorce and destitution if she presses charges. There is no escape. ‘My parents told me to put up with it and that God will decide my fate. It would have been better if I had died,’ she says. We have to remebrer that 90 percent of the population is Muslim and suicide is strictly forbidden. Nearly all deaths are registered as accidental and anyone who fails in their attempt risks being shunned by society.


“Violence against women is not a problem in Tajikistan, it is a family matter, and it depends on individual people how they resolve their problems. Violence against women is not human rights violation” (Government official Intergovernmental Organization, Dushanbe

Although the Tajikistani government has established a formal structure of governmental agencies and addressed women’s issues, but so far failed to an effectively promote and implement equality. Furthermore, clear mechanisms for execution, monitoring and evaluation are missing. The state considers women’s rights as “women and family issues” putting them under jurisdiction of the Committee on Women and Family Affairs. To this day Tajikistan has no specific law addressing violence against women in terms of domestic law. A draft of law on domestic violence had been elaborated with NGOs, but hasn’t been introduced to parliament yet. Many NGOs and international organisations in Tajikistan pointed that the lack of a clear financial plan and a monitoring mechanism causes delays in establishing and execution of the law.

The Tajikistani Criminal Code does not define domestic violence as a separate crime and

does not clearly criminalize neither.Women are protected against violence under the Criminal Codes, the Family Code, the Labour Code, the Reproductive Health and Reproductive Rights Act and other laws and regulations. Domestic violence crimes are prosecuted under more general provisions of the Tajikistani Criminal Code dealing with assault (Article 116), battery and bodily harm (Article 111) and murder. None of articles, with exception of Article 109 (Suicide) and 117 (Torture), make distinction between strangers and husband or family members committing violent crimes. In the period 1999‑2003, a number of criminal prosecutions were brought under articles of the Criminal Code that directly relate to domestic violence or other abuse of women – 93cases under article 116 (Beating) and 73 under article 117 (Cruel treatment). Of these, 33 and 64cases respectively resulted in convictions.

While there is no explicit prohibition of marital rape, a husband or intimate partner can be prosecuted under the Article 138 on rape charges and punished by imprisonment from 3 to 7 years, under aggravating circumstances up to 10 years. If the act is against a minor under 14 or a close relative punishment is up to 20 years or death penalty. Also in Article 139, forcible actions of sexual character are punishable by imprisonment. According to Article 141, sexual intercourse and other actions of sexual nature with an individual under 16 years of age, are punishable from 2 to 5 years jail custody. Article 140, punished compulsion to actions of sexual character by a fine, correctional labour up to 2 years, or imprisonment up to 2 years. Two other articles of the Tajikistani Criminal Code under which family violence is prosecuted are: Article 110 (intentional major bodily injury) punishable by imprisonment from 5 to 10 years, increased under aggravating circumstances and Article 112 (intentional bodily injury of lesser degree) punishable by a 5 years, up to 2 years of correctional labour, or up to 4 months of imprisonment.

Under international human rights law, a victim of domestic violence should be provided with access to an effective remedy, including equal and effective access to the criminal justice system. However the Ministry of Interior has not established special police units on violence against women. In cases of domestic violence the police can only initiate a criminal investigation on receiving a written request from the victim, together with a forensic medical report compiled within 21 days of the alleged incident. In the meantime, the woman lives in close distance to her attacker. Even when witnesses have complained about violent assaults, for example neighbours, or medical experts, police cannot act without a written complaint from the woman. A district police officer then decides if the case should be examined further and realise charges. In many cases, when a woman contacts the police, the perpetrator is only given a warning not to repeat the violence. Sometimes, the perpetrator has to sign a document that he will not re-offend and is warned that otherwise there will be “legal consequences”.

Police are also entitled to charge offender of domestic violence with administrative offences, which are punishable by short-term detention of up to 15 days or a fine. In such cases the officer has to establish the identity of the abuser and present his findings to the district court, which imposes the administrative sanctions. The problem is that a person who has committed violence in the family is only subjected to administrative liability instead of criminal liability. Anyone who commits a crime of assault should be punished under criminal law.

Polygamy is another problem, which Tajikistan domestic law has to deal. Tajikistan Constitution says that “polygamy, which infringes the rights of women and has an adverse effect on the upbringing of children, is a criminal offence”. Under article 170 of the Criminal Code, bigamy or polygamy, cohabiting with two or more women in a single household, is punishable by a fine of between 1,000 and 2,000 times the minimum wage, punitive deduction of earnings for up to two years or restriction of liberty for up to five years. In the period 1999‑2003, 147 criminal prosecutions were brought under article 170 of the Criminal Code, 123 of which resulted in convictions.

In addition on force marriages the Article 13 of Family Code says that the marriageable age is 17, and the mutual consent of the man and the woman entering into marriage is necessary for the marriage to take place. The giving away in marriage of a girl who has not attained marriageable age, by her parents or guardians, or by persons exercising authority over her, and likewise the brokering of such a marriage or the offering of inducements to such persons to give a girl away, shall be punishable by deduction of earnings for up to two years or restriction of liberty for up to five years (Criminal Code, art. 168). In the period 1999‑2003, 52 criminal prosecutions were brought under article 168 of the Criminal Code, 39 of which resulted in convictions

Tajikistan government with NGOs and non‑governmental organizations, such as the Association of Women Scientists of Tajikistan and the Khujand Association of Businesswomen, The “Dilsuz” and “Bovari” centres for psychological and legal assistance, cooperates on The National Plan of Action for the Advancement of Women envisages. The aim of the project is to the establish crisis centres, which offer moral and psychological support to women, who have been subjected to various forms of violence. Part of this project is organise telephone hotlines, establish the institution of a system of legal education for women on the issue of violence, and the undertak sociological research in terms what causes the problem of violence against women.

In terms of International Human Right Law, Tajikistan has acceded to the following International Human Rights Treaties within the framework of the United Nations and specialised institutions, including treaties involving the advancement of women and the protection of women’s rights: International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1998) and International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1998). Also Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (1993) and Convention on the Political Rights of Women (1999), fallow by Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (2002).Tajikistan has signed, but not yet ratified the Optional Protocol to the Women’s Convention, which recognizes the competence of CEDAW to receive and consider complaints about violations of rights (protected under the convention) from individual women and groups of women. Tajikistan is required under the Women’s Convention to adopt appropriate legislative and other measures to prohibit all forms of discrimination against women, and to submit reports every four years to CEDAW with details on the implementation of the Convention.

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Under current legislation, women and men have an equal right to recognition as a person before the law. However in articles 18 and 19 of the Civil Code, the equal rights may be limited only in accordance with the law or the judgement of a court, pursuant to a declaration that the bearer of the right has limited or no legal capacity (Civil Code, arts. 30 and 31) (ESC May 2005).

The government of Tajikistan has undertaken some initial steps to address this problem: in 2001 a state program on “Equal Rights and Opportunities” was adopted, including a chapter on the prevention of domestic violence. A Coordination Council on the “Prevention of Violence against Women” was set up, and a draft law on “Social and Legal Protection against Domestic Violence” is under discussion. However, despite the initial government measures, Tajikistan is still failing to fulfill its international obligation to protect women’s rights to lead a life free from violence


The UN response to Tajikistan implementation of Human Rights on International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights is throw reports submitted by states parties under Article 40 of the Covenant Concluding observations of the Human Rights Committee Tajikistan. The Human Rights Committee find positive aspect in Tajikistan efforts the existence of the Committee on Women and the Family to implement government policies and plans on gender equality, efforts to decrease the gender imbalance in government positions and to improve the status and rights of women in society. Also the Committee welcomes legal sanctions against forced marriages and polygamy. However the Committee is concerned that domestic violence against women remains still a problem in Tajikistan and in this respect much more needs to be done (arts. 3 and 26). Committee’s main concerns and recommendations, which need to be implementing by the government, are rise in several areas. First main concern of The Committee is lack of clearly linkage between the Law on State Guarantees to protect woman against discrimination and other relevant legislation in areas covered by the Law and the Convention. Second, still weak performance of complains mechanism. The Comeety refers to the Special Department on Citizen Rights, which had been created to hear complaints from women and men whose rights had allegedly been violated. In articuls 13. The Committee also raise concerned that only few cases had been heard in a court, including domestic violence against women, polygamy, and rape, as well others areas of women’s lives.

Next area of The Committee’ concernes is egzistinng of strong stereotypes of women position, and responsibility in Tajikistan society, which are seen by Committee as a root cause of domestic violence, polygamy, women’s disadvantaged position in the labour market, education and poverty. The Committee recommends awareness-raising and educational campaigns addressing directly to religious and community leaders, parents, teachers, officials and young girls and boys themselves, in accordance with the obligations under articles 2 (f) and 5 (a) of the Convention. The Committee recommends to media as a tool promote non-stereotypical and positive images of women and promote the value of gender equality for society as a whole. The Committee also welcomes the government steps to combat violence against women, including the establishment of 13 crisis centres and a shelter for victims of violence, the draft Bill on Social and Legal Protection against Domestic Violence, the creation of the Coordinating Council of the law-enforcement authorities and increased penalties for all forms of violence against women. However, the Committee calls for constituting violence against women as a criminal offence, which mean that as a victim, would have immediate access to protection, including protection orders and shelters.

Next recommendation for the government is implementation of trainings for parliamentarians, the judiciary and public officials, in particular law enforcement personnel and health-service providers. Despite article 8 of the Law on State Guarantees that aims to ensure that male and female candidates should be represented equally on election lists, the Committee is concerned at women’s low representation in political bodies, especially in the national Parliament. The Committee is also concerned about the male, votes for the entire family, especially in rural areas. The Committee is further concerned at women’s low representation in the higher levels of public service and the Foreign Service. The State encouragement throw trainings need to be place to increase women’s active participation in political life, such as involvement in Central Elections and Referendums, with the involvement of representatives of political parties, non-governmental organizations and women who want to move into political life.

The Committee is concerned at the increasingly high number of women in monogamous unions based only on a religious ceremony. The Committee is also concerned that polygamous unions are not uncommon, despite being illegal and prohibited by law, and by the fact that second and subsequent wives do not have any rights concerning property, inheritance or maintenance. It is also concerned that the legal age of marriage in Tajikistan has been reduced to 17 It encourages the State party to review legal and administrative regulations in order to prevent religious unions from taking place without verification that a civil marriage has been registered first as well as , improving access to registration offices and lowering registration fees. In addition to eliminate polygamy the Commeetty advice to develop strategies targeted at parents and religious leaders to prevent such unions. As well as encourages the justice system to apply sanctions to those who perform such unions. Next suggestion of the Committee is to revert to 18 years as the minimum legal age of marriage for women and men, in line with the Committee’s general recommendation 21 and the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The Committee urges the State party to enforce its prohibition of forced marriage.

The Committee calls for enhance women’s awareness of their rights through ongoing legal literacy programs and legal assistance through women’s centres as well as the creation of additional centres with legal expertise in all regions of the country.

In terms of education law, the state should ensure relevant domestic legislation, in particular the Law on State Guarantees, are made an integral part of the education given in law departments of universities and be made available in modules in the further education available to the Judges Study Centre of the Council of the Judicial, in order to firmly establish a legal culture supportive of women’s equality and non-discrimination in the country.



Women’s access to the criminal justice system is very restricted, with inadequate police and judicial response; as a result, women are unwilling to come forward, which has led to massive under-reporting. Also there are insufficient services to protect victim of domestic violence. We are talking about temporary shelters, and adequate and safe alternative housing in the long term. There is not reliable statistics on violence against women. In addition, social structure of Tajikistan population make difficult to tackle violence against women. As a result of a lack of public awareness and support many women are unable to escape the cycle of violence, and many endure violent situations because they have nowhere else to go. Furthermore, in order to increase the victim safety Amnesty International urges authorities in Tajikistan to introduce civil protection or restraining orders, which can be made by courts. These should contain a clear instruction that the police are authorized to use in order to secure safety of the victim. So in case if the perpetrator does not abide by the terms of those protection orders he should be subjected to criminal liability sanctions.

Technical assistance in education and training, as well as public awareness can play turning point for the country social and legal system. It is necessary for countries struggle with economy and post- war recovery like Tajikistan to get assistants in every step of legal and administration level. Assistant with legal advice, medical examination of the victim, collecting criminal evidence and post -traumatic help to the victim, etc are crucial element of the changing process. For instance Amnesty International is concerned that due to a shortage of legal advice services, women are left on their own to cope with domestic and sexual violence without knowing how to access the criminal justice system. An additional, the forensic examination is another obstacle for women to access the criminal justice system. To prove an assault the survivor is required to undergo a forensic medical examination and obtain a certificate of injuries from a forensic medical institute. However, referral to such an institute can only be obtained through the police. According to staff at crisis centre police officials are often reluctant to issue such referrals. Activists reported that there are many women who want to obtain a forensic examination in order to gather documentation of their injuries to be used in divorce proceedings, rather than for criminal prosecution. In any case, the requirement of a police referral deters many women from obtaining a forensic examination. Furthermore, many women cannot afford the travel expenses to a city where a forensic institute is located, or they are not allowed by their husbands or other relatives of the in-law family to travel alone. Examinations from non-forensic doctors are not accepted as evidence in court. Only in cases where a woman is hospitalized due to her injuries will the examination of the hospital be accepted by a forensic doctor who will then issue a certificate. The assessment of injuries by the forensic doctor determines if the case can be prosecuted by the police or privately. Light injury cases have to be prosecuted privately which means that the criminal proceeding is initiated and brought to court by the survivor. In the case of private prosecution the court requires witnesses to prove the domestic violence, in accordance with the Criminal Procedure Code. Witnesses are rarely willing to testify in court which poses another obstacle in the legal process. Practical assistance in training of the police forces and medical staff can create positive impact on a victim trust in the justice system. Important is to create and coordinate competent and special services, which offer assistance to the victim of violence. When they are educated about violence against women, general practitioners, nurses, emergency care and even dentists can carry out screening procedures and also provide competent referrals to specialized services. In countries, where the disposition of a criminal case depends on how injuries are classified by a medical professional, it is crucial that attending physicians understand how manifests it and how evidence should be documented in a criminal case.

Next government imputes in protecting women victim of violence is creating crisis centres, shelters and “One-Stop” Centres, where women are assisted in rebuilding their lives through psychological counselling and job skills training. There is already many NGO’s project supporting shelters and help centre with experience staff. Unfortunately more need to be done as a government still doesn’t admits existence of domestic violence.

Also programs recognize that even violent men are in need of support should be created, in the form of psychological counselling. Men, who use violence, may suffer from low self-esteem, anger management problems and issues with expressing emotions and forming interpersonal relationships. Again strategies of public awareness and technical assistance could play major role in dealing with violence. j

Responsibilities for the training programs, coordinating various specializing agencies should lie on a government national and local level. But in countries with lack of democratic structure in traditional senses and a history of human rights abuse international aid is necessary. In addition, community and religious leaders, media, the educational system, businesses and parents all have a role to play in tackle problem of violence against women. The education should be wild spread.

Awareness raising campaigns are important strategies in tackle the problem. The level of campenie can influence public awareness on the topic of violence against women, legal sytem and social stricture, which cause the problem. For example, NGOs campaign against unregistered marriages and the minimum age requirement. The campaign have made some progress in increasing the number of registered marriages. Also influence the voice of non-governmental organisations in Tajikistan, which recommended that “With the purpose of reduction of early marriages and increasing the level of girls’ education, [the Government of Tajikistan] should introduce amendments to the Family Code of Tajikistan, increasing the age of marriage from 17 to 18, providing that in exceptional cases the age of consent could be brought down to 17 years old by decision of court”.

Global awareness campaigns turn eyes of international public opinion in direction of the country governance putting more pressure on governments to make changes. In particular campaigns organised by trustful organisation like Amnesty International can make a impact. Amnesty International started campaign “Violence is not just a family affair. Women face abuse in Tajikistan”, which is a part of global complain “Stop violence against women”. The aim of the campaign is not only spread awareness of the women situation, but as well to push for change in a law,


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