To the Government of Kyrgyzstan

  • Enforce existing criminal laws against assault and abduction and prosecute perpetrators of domestic violence and kidnapping to the fullest extent of the law.
  • Compile and disseminate accurate and comprehensive national statistics on domestic violence and bride-kidnapping. This data should include information about the nature and degree of violence, the number of bride-kidnapping and domestic violence complaints filed with the police, the number of protection orders issued, the number of criminal cases opened, the number of convictions and the level of sentencing, the number and duration of arrests, and the number and average amount of fines levied, or other penalties. The relevant ministries should create and implement a coordinated system for collecting that information and should make those statistics publicly available in a timely manner.
  • Institute mandatory counseling and treatment programs for perpetrators of domestic violence, in addition to penalties as prescribed under the C riminal Code and other relevant laws.

With a view to improving legislation and implementation of the law:

  • In keeping with Kyrgyzstan’s 2003 Law on Social-Legal Protection from Domestic Violence, which defines “sexual domestic violence” as “an act by one family member that infringes sexual inviolability of another family member…”, amend Kyrgyzstan’s Criminal Code article 129 on rape to explicitly criminalize marital rape.
  • Strengthen the investigation of accomplices to abduction of women for forced marriage, including for those who actively participate in her capture, who confine her in a home, who plot the kidnapping, who physically or psychologically coerce the woman during the course of the kidnapping, and those who fail to alert authorities that a kidnapping has taken place or who otherwise facilitate the execution of the crime, and hold them accountable for their crimes.
  • Require that state registry officials who register marriages and religious clerics ascertain the woman’s explicit and free consent prior to an official or religious ceremony. Require registry officials and clerics to report to the police any suspected case of bride-kidnapping. Ensure that state officials or clerics who fail to obtain a woman’s consent prior to registering or performing a marriage and who fail to report suspected cases of abduction of women are investigated and penalized in a timely, effective, and appropriate manner.
  • Amend the Family Code of the Kyrgyz Republic to abolish the mandatory waiting period for divorce, without vitiating the parties’ rights to be info rmed of the proceedings and to assert their rights to property.
  • Amend the law to provide for a presumption of spousal co-ownership of land, housing, and other major assets acquired during a marriage.
  • Amend the law to recognize the rights of persons in common law marriages (those not registered with the state) to property, alimony, and child custody. Such amendment should not be used to legitimize polygamous marriages, prohibited under article 153 of Kyrgyzstan’s Criminal Code.

With a view to educating the public:

The government has a positive obligation to promote respect for women’s fundamental rights and actively discourage violence against women. Toward this end, the government should:

  • Intensify extensive, nationwide public awareness campaigns against domestic violence and bride-kidnapping. Such a campaign should include public service announcements broadcast on television and radio, and should provide the public with hotline numbers of crisis centers and information about other victim services. Ensure proper funding for such campaigns to inform the public of its right to state protection against violence and places where one can seek further information and assistance. In keeping with recommendations made by the CEDAW Committee in 2004, such public awareness campaigns should specifically target women to enhance women’s awareness of their rights and to ensure that women can avail themselves of procedures and remedies for violations of their rights.

o Specifically, launch a nationwide public education campaign to inform citizens about the Law on Social-Legal Protection from Domestic Violence, the Criminal Code prohibitions on assault and abduction, and the new law on temporary restraining orders. Distribute widely the Law on Social-Legal Protection from Domestic Violence in Kyrgyz and Russian.

o As part of this campaign, the president of Kyrgyzstan should publicly denounce domestic violence and abduction of women for forced marriage as violations of human rights and crimes under Kyrgyzstan’s domestic law.

  • Encourage state media to cooperate with NGOs to develop public service announcements and other programs to publicize the problems of bride-kidnapping and domestic violence and inform the public about legal remedies and social services available for victims of abduction and domestic violence.
  • Cooperate with NGOs to include in all school curricula information on women’s and girls’ human rights, and distribute pledges to secondary school children and their parents agreeing that they will protect children from kidnapping and will help their daughters, friends, siblings, etc., avoid and escape from the crime of abduction.

With a view to improving direct services for women:

  • The Ministry of Health should work with other agencies to ensure that public health providers integrate screening for domestic violence into their routine work.
  • Extend from 10 days to 30 days the period during which women victims of violence can stay free of charge at shelters run by crisis centers.
  • As a matter of priority, establish long-term shelters where women and their minor children can stay voluntarily for up to six months, paying rent on a sliding scale. Provide such facilities with necessary security to ensure women’s safety during their stay. Ensure that such shelters provide mediation with a woman’s abuser only if a woman requests it.
  • Work towards establishing government and donor-funded legal aid and job training to women survivors of violence free of charge or on a sliding scale.

With a view to educating law enforcement and judiciary about appropriate responses to domestic violence:

  • Implement clear and explicit guidelines for police intervention in cases of domestic violence, including standardized arrest policies for perpetrators, the separate categorization of domestic violence in police records, and protocols for referring victims of domestic violence to social, legal, and health services.
  • Establish implementing guidelines for the issuance of protection orders by courts. Undertake training of police, procuracy, and court employees on the use and enforcement of this mechanism.
  • The Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVD), in consultation with the procuracy and Ministry of Justice, should issue guidelines to the heads of all district, city, and province police stations explaining the law on temporary restraining orders and its implementation and directing police on the proper procedure for issuing such protection orders.
  • Conduct conflict-resolution and anger-management training with law enforcement officers, with particular view to eliminating violence in police families.
  • Issue clarifying guidelines regarding cases related to family conflicts that properly can be forwarded to the aksakal courts (legally recognized courts presided over by community elders without the authority to impose cr iminal penalties), and specifying the types of cases that must be processed by the police and procuracy and, when relevant, forwarded to a district court. All cases that involve violence against women should be investigated and prosecuted pursuant to the Criminal Procedure Code in order to guarantee women full access to justice. Require that aksakals inform women whose cases are heard by this body of the right to appeal aksakal court decisions to the district court.
  • Undertake thorough training of all MVD and procuracy staff on the proper way to investigate cases of domestic violence and abduction for forced marriage.
  • Train law enforcement and judicial personnel in recognizing, investigating, and prosecuting violence against women.

o Specifically, require a training program on domestic violence for all existing and incoming police officers. The training program should include, at a minimum, procedures for efficient intake of all domestic violence complaints, legal training on laws against domestic violence, creation of a protocol for handling domestic violence complaints, and training on the dynamics of domestic violence. Training should be conducted in investigative methodology applicable to cases of domestic violence, including techniques for interviewing victims who have been traumatized, methods for protecting victims and witnesses from harassment, and methods for collecting and preserving evidence. Police academy courses on domestic violence should be strengthened.

  • In accordance with recommendations made by the CEDAW Committee in 2004, introduce education and training programs on the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and domestic laws to promote gender equality, in particular for the judiciary, law enforcement personnel, and parliamentarians.
  • Undertake training of members of government women’s committees, aksakal courts, and other local government officials on domestic violence and bride-kidnapping as violations of women’s fundamental rights and crimes under Kyrgyzstan’s domestic law. Inform these officials about the Law on Social-Legal Protection from Domestic Violence, Criminal Code articles outlawing assault and abduction, and the mechanism of protection orders.
  • The Ministry of Health should ensure the training of medical personnel, including family doctors, to recognize and—with informed consent of victims—report instances of domestic battery and rape. Require a training program on domestic violence as part of the curriculum at medical schools and institutes. Such curricula should include training on how to document injuries related to battering and sexual violence and how best to serve patients who exhibit such injuries. Provide hospitals with 24-hour security trained in averting harassment of domestic violence victims by the perpetrators. Provide training for existing personnel responsible for hospital security.
  • Undertake training of staff of reproductive health facilities to detect and address domestic violence cases. At a minimum, require reproductive health facilities to display information about domestic violence (including referral information) in the facility, and encourage health providers to expand services to offering on-site treatment for victims of domestic violence.

With a view to improving performance of duties by police and aksakals:

  • Investigate and prosecute police corruption, misconduct, and negligence. In addition, appropriately discipline officers who reject complaints without cause, harass complainants or their families, attempt to discourage women victims of violence from pursuing their cases, or otherwise block investigations of domestic violence and abduction.
  • Establish an independent mechanism to monitor and oversee police treatment of female victims of violence.
  • Establish domestic violence units within police departments staffed with well-trained male and female officers with the participation of NGO volunteers.
  • Encourage the employment and promotion of female police officers.
  • Establish an oversight mechanism to monitor and ensure that the aksakal courts’ work is carried out in accordance with national legislation.

To Donors

  • Increase financial and technical assistance to civil society organizations providing services to women and girls who have suffered violence, including domestic violence and abduction for forced marriage. Specifically, increase funding for direct services to women and girl victims of violence. This could include services such as shelters, legal services, counseling, medical assistance, and job training.
  • Contribute to training law enforcement and judicial personnel, and support the establishment of long-term shelters.
  • Sponsor an initiative to provide specialized training on domestic violence to psychologists and social workers working with civil society organizations and crisis centers and with public health providers working in clinics (including sexual and reproductive health care clinics) and hospitals. This could include funding for university courses for social workers and psychologists that would focus on domestic violence.
  • Support programs that seek to review, reform, and implement existing laws.

To International Financial Institutions

  • The World Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development should include violence against women among the issues raised in their country strategies for Kyrgyzstan and encourage the Kyrgyz authorities to take adequate measures to address it.

To the United Nations

  • The special rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences should request an invitation to visit Kyrgyzstan to examine the state response to domestic violence.

To the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe

  • Include human rights and, specifically, violence against women—including domestic violence and bride-kidnapping—among the components of the OSCE Police Assistance Program for Kyrgyzstan. Work with local and international human rights groups to integrate human rights and attention to the problem of violence against women into the eight projects already set out in the assistance program, including the projects on a police emergency call response center, improvement of police investigation, crime analysis, and community policing.

To the European Union

  • Raise the issue of violence against women in meetings with senior government officials, including in the context of the EU-Kyrgyzstan Cooperation Council meetings conducted in accordance with the EU-Kyrgyzstan Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA). Encourage the government of Kyrgyzstan to enforce laws against domestic violence and bride-kidnapping.
  • Increase TACIS funding for direct services—including legal and psychological counseling and housing and medical treatment—to women victims of violence. Continue funding civil society initiatives that conduct research and advocacy on women’s human rights.

To the United States Government

  • Increase USAID and other U.S. government funding for direct services—including legal and psychological counseling and housing and medical treatment—to women victims of violence. Continue funding civil society initiatives that conduct research and advocacy on women’s human rights.
  • Raise the issue of violence against women in meetings with senior government officials. Encourage the government of Kyrgyzstan to enforce laws against domestic violence and bride-kidnapping.
  • Increase reporting on domestic violence, bride-kidnapping and the government’s willingness to hold perpetrators accountable in the State Department’s Country Reports on Human Rights Practices.