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“When I got married I lost my life”: report on domestic violence in Tajikistan

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“When I got married I lost my life”: report on domestic violence in Tajikistan
“When I got married I lost my life”: report on domestic violence in Tajikistan

“Women who don’t know their rights fall into a kind of slavery…Some kids grow up thinking it’s normal to beat one’s wife” – Survivor of domestic violence, Tajikistan, November 2023

A new report published today by International Partnership for Human Rights (IPHR, based in Belgium) and the Tajikistani organizations Nota Bene, Vash Vybor (Your Choice), and Legal Initiative, reveals that domestic violence against women continues in Tajikistan at a massive scale. Despite its obligations under international human rights law, Tajikistan has not adopted a victim-centered approach, and many obstacles stand in the way of victims obtaining justice such as the failure to classify domestic violence as a separate crime and the effective prosecution of perpetrators.

On 8 March, International Women’s Day, seven years after the publication of our last comprehensive report about domestic violence in Tajikistan, and over ten years since the Law on the Prevention of Family Violence came into force,  the report takes stock of what has changed for women, identifies protection gaps in law and in practice and provides recommendations to the government of Tajikistan.  

In over ten years since the Law against Family Violence came into force, Tajikistan’s government continues to fail victims. It has not implemented effective structural protection measures, removed obstacles to justice nor has it reliably held perpetrators to account. It has failed to invest sufficient financial resources for victim protection initiatives”,  said Brigitte Dufour, director of International Partnership for Human Rights (IPHR). 

A Tajikistani women’s rights expert summarized one root cause “there is no specialised knowledge at state level about the gendered nature of domestic violence, that it is about power and control of men over women – until now domestic violence is mainly viewed as an administrative offence.”

Desk and field research conducted in Tajikistan in the autumn 2023 showed that police are still failing in their duty to protect victims of domestic violence. Often they do not take reports of violence seriously, and send victims home or even blame them for the violence. Women continue to suffer from the authorities’ failure to respond to complaints promptly and effectively and from the common practice of officials putting pressure on women to reconcile with the abusers so as not to “destroy” the family. 

This, combined with deep-rooted gender stereotypes, has a profoundly negative impact on women’s rights. Narrowly defined gender roles of how a woman should behave include enduring violence in silence, staying with the husband and his family, and the view that divorcing a husband brings shame on the family.

In addition, the report documents that women living with HIV, women with disabilities, and children who witness or suffer from violence are particularly vulnerable to discrimination, stigmatisation and violence. 

“The fight for women’s safety and integrity demands stronger, united efforts – the government must finally understand that there is no true equality without freedom from violence,” said Brigitte Dufour.

The report can be downloaded below – in English and Russian

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