Ending violence against women

Photo: UN Women/Janarbek Amankulov

A key challenge to achieving gender equality in the Central Asia region is the prevalence of gender-based domestic violence, which is often surrounded by a culture of silence and compounded by a lack of data on gender-based violence and other forms of discrimination against women. Adequate support services for victims are rare. In a 2012 UN Women survey, 58 per cent of women in Tajikistan reported physical or sexual violence by their partner.

Women in Central Asia also suffer from early marriages, sexual harassment in the workplace and trafficking in human beings. The revival of some cultural and social practices, often mistakenly interpreted as part of religious customs, increasingly restricts women’s rights to control their lives.

In Turkmenistan, the practice of prohibiting men and women from associating with each other outside the home is increasingly enforced, limiting women’s freedom of movement and access to services. Unofficial restrictions on women obtaining driving licences mean that many women cannot drive.

The UN Women Multi-Country Office works to prevent and respond to violence against women and girls in Central Asia by:

  • supporting initiatives that increase access to services for survivors and make public and private spaces safer for women and girls;
  • partnering with Governments, UN agencies, civil society organizations and NGOs to prevent and respond to violence;
  • raising awareness of the causes and consequences of violence against women;
  • working to change the attitudes and behaviours that tolerate and perpetuate violence and gender inequality.

UN Women in Action

  • In Kazakhstan and Tajikistan our work to improve and enforce domestic violence laws has led to increased state funding for services for survivors of violence and more strategic ways to raise public awareness on the issue, particularly through the UNiTE campaign.
  • In Kazakhstan we implement a program jointly developed by the Government, the Ministry of Regional Development, other UN agencies and local government Akimats in the Kyzylorda and Mangystau regions to build capacity and provide technical support to local authorities to implement the law on prevention of domestic violence.
  • Also in Kazakhstan, we support the comprehensive national survey on the prevalence of domestic violence, the first of its kind for Kazakhstan and all of Central Asia.
  • In Tajikistan UN Women jointly with UNICEF continues to work in Dushanbe to create safer infrastructure and environments for women and girls.