UN Women calls on everyone to unite around protecting women and girls

Date: Wednesday, July 14, 2021

UN Women deeply mourns over yet another shattered fate of a family and lost life of Rufeida, a little 8-year-old girl from Tajikistan who became a victim of a cruel rapist. Unfortunately, this is not the first case of brutal murder in the Central Asian region in the past six months. The cases of rape and murder of Aizada in Kyrgyzstan and Ayazhan in Kazakhstan earlier this year, once again confirmed that women in these countries are exposed to daily danger and are not protected from kidnapping, violence, and murder. UN Women stands with families of girls who lost their lives and demand justice and strongly condemns any form of violence against women and girls. The problem of violence is acute in Central Asian countries and continues to devastate the lives of women and girls. Rape is a horrific manifestation of gender-based violence and a horrendous crime.

According to the UN Women and UNECE report, 23 per cent of women in Central Asia experience physical or sexual violence, while the situation during the pandemic has only worsened. In Kazakhstan during the pandemic, the rates of domestic violence have increased, 825 cases of rape and sexual violence against children were reported, 81 percent of which were committed by those close to them. In Kyrgyzstan, a spike (65 per cent) of domestic violence has been recorded, and according to the latest statistics, in Tajikistan every third woman is subjected to violence. Crimes like these are causing widespread discussions on social media and create outrage among the public. It is time to tighten up the punishment for child abuse, rape, physical injury, and loss of life. Governments should protect its citizens from violence and ensure full enjoyment of their rights to life without violence. Every violence case is due to an inefficient system of prevention and protection. Very often it is due to the tolerance of the society, normalization of violence and gender stereotypes.

Similarly, children face violence from an early age and grow up in a violent environment; level of violence against children in Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan is higher than 50 per cent, according to UNICEF’s data. UN Women calls for bringing the national criminal legislation and judicial practice on violence against women and children of Central Asian countries in line with the international standards. Ensuring full and effective protection of the child rights to life and security, toughening penalties for crimes of a sexual nature against children, ensuring the impartiality of justice and abiding by the principle of the best interests of the child are of utmost importance. The national legislation should exclude the possibility of applying amnesty for sexual crimes against children. UN Women calls for development and adoption of comprehensive action plans to prevent and respond to gender-based violence in all its manifestations, in particular, within the framework of the regional Spotlight Initiative, implemented with the support of the European Union and the UN.

UN Women urges to strengthen the work of state institutions, continue reforms to develop effective mechanisms to protect the rights of women and children from all forms of violence, including sexual violence, create effective mechanisms for open and close cooperation of civil society, responsible government authorities and the media, and replace stereotypical approaches with measures based on universal human rights that guarantee women’s and girls’ right to live free from violence.

And finally, UN Women calls on everyone to unite around protecting women and girls, to show zero tolerance to violence and to stand against rape and sexual harassment. Stopping the pandemic of violence at home, streets, and society can only be achieved by acting together.