Despite the encouraging commitments by the Kyrgyz Government, women and girls are increasingly vulnerable to violence, exploitation and destitution, an independent United Nations human rights expert said today following her first mission to the country.
UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women Rashida Manjoo commended the Government for the adoption of numerous international instruments and legislative and policy frameworks, such as the Law on Social and Legal Protection against Domestic Violence, which has been described as one of the most progressive in the region.
But she noted that since Kyrgyzstan’s independence in 1991, these efforts “have been accompanied by widespread poverty on the ground, insufficient investments and reforms in social services, and a resurfacing and reinterpretation of traditions and values which have strengthened patriarchal systems of control over women, gender stereotypes and de facto discrimination.”
As a result, she said, “there is an increase in the prevalence levels of violence against women and girl children, homelessness, migration, the numbers of women being incarcerated for drug-related offences and also for the killing of family members, rates of HIV/AIDS infections, maternal mortality rates, levels and forms of corruption, and impunity for acts of violence against women by both State and non-State actors.”
During the 8 to 17 November visit, Ms. Manjoo met with government officials, human rights and women’s organizations and victims of violence. She said the most prevalent forms of violence against women – two-thirds of whom live in rural areas – include domestic violence and under-age marriages.
“Equality and equal protection doctrines demand that we address violence against women as discrimination against women, and as a serious human rights violation," she said.
"The rights to dignity, equality, bodily integrity, non-discrimination and freedom from all forms of violence – both public and private – are fundamental rights. Elimination of violence against women requires political will, legal measures, human and financial resources, and also civil society action.”
Ms. Manjoo, who was appointed to her post in June 2009, works in an independent and unpaid capacity, and reports to the Geneva-based Human Rights Council.