Tomorrow, November 25, is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, established and officially declared by the UN General Assembly in 1999. The annual campaign “16 days without violence against women” starts globally from November 25th and lasts until December 10th. In Kazakhstan, many measures are taken to protect women: effective legislative and practical measures have been taken to strengthen the rule of law in this area. Legal mechanisms have been established to prevent domestic crimes. However, violence against women continues to be a global pandemic. Up to 70% of women suffer from domestic violence.
Only this summer two centers were opened in Almaty: a “Crisis center for victims of domestic violence” and a shelter for victims of domestic violence, “ARASHA”. The first is financed from the local budget. It was designed for 50 beds and takes only urban residents. The second one is financed from several sources – partly from the public fund “Institute of Equal Rights and Equal Opportunities in Kazakhstan,” and partly from the state. It is designed to hold 20 beds, and can accept all people without exception.
First, a woman could feel safe. Second, it is vital that she can comprehend and realize the path on which she must stand, with the support of crisis center specialists. In addition to assistant staff there are psychologists and lawyers. The victims of domestic violence can stay here for up to six months. Among the rare guests are older people, who became the objects of humiliation from their own children. But most often those are the wives of tyrants,” Zulfiya Baysakova, director of the KSU Crisis Center for Victims of Domestic Violence, explained in an interview to Khabar 24.
The center created the most comfortable conditions possible for those who found themselves in a critical situation.
With my husband, relations went worse than before. He became rude to me. He started cursing me, assaulting me, and he started kicking me on my head. My mother-in-law did not defend me,” recounted one of the victims of domestic violence.
Every year, the Almaty Police receive about three thousand reports of domestic violence. Some women decide to seek help; however, many do not seem to know about the existence of such centers. But those who came here are under the protection of the police.
Today, according to the law, a protective order has been adopted. This is a new document that allows us to observe the family for a month, learn the dynamics of improving relations, visit the place of residence of the offender and take appropriate measures. For emergency cases, a hotline operates in the city. You just need to dial the number “150” at any time of the day,” noted Maya Toksanova, Senior Inspector of the Department of Internal Affairs.
President of the Public Fund “Institute of Equal Rights and Equal Opportunities of Kazakhstan” and Director of the shelter for victims of domestic violence “ARASHA”, child psychologist Margarita Uskembayeva, told the correspondent of Zakon.kz about the history of her guests and how not to become a victim of violence.
The situation related to violence is the same, and the stories are always different. An 18-year-old girl addressed us when was subjected to a beating by her stepfather. Her mother addressed us a week earlier and told us that she left her four children, the youngest of whom was still nursing, to run away from her husband. This was her eighth time running away because the real threat to her life was looming. Her 11-year-old son told her: “Mom, run away or he will kill you. Her face and body showed signs of beating. It was clear that she was repeatedly subjected to assault, “says Margarita Uskembayeva.
The woman was helped by a doctor, a psychologist and a lawyer. When, four days later, she began reprimanding herself for abandoning her children, she was told that the instinct of self-preservation was stronger than the maternal instinct. Maternal instinct is not innate, it is a social construct. Society imposes its beliefs. It commands that you have to have children, educate them, monitor them, and if women do not have this instinct, then they are stigmatized. In the eyes of society, such a woman is considered as a bad woman. Her daughter was very frightened, and she was invited to the shelter. She wrote a statement and they took her under their protection. The girl shared how she was repeatedly discriminated against. When her mother got married for the second time, the daughter from the first marriage was hidden, and they tried to conceal her existence. The girl grew up with her grandparents. When her parents visited, she had to hide through the backyard, hidden at the neighbor’s home at the other end of the street. But eventually, the truth was revealed. After marrying again, the woman gave birth to four sons, was periodically subjected to violence, and the daughter was sexually harassed by the woman’s husband.
According to the psychologist, girls are the most vulnerable group, who are more often subjected to sexual violence. However, victims do not always talk about what happened, because they do not realize that they were subjected to violence. When they are older, they are afraid of condemnation and reproach that they themselves were to blame for this.
I talked with many policemen, psychologists, human rights experts, men and women and all unanimously affirm that mothers don’t acknowledge, but know that their child has been subjected to violence. They either keep it quiet, or deliberately do not want to notice changes in the behavior of the child,” noted Margarita Uskembayeva.
As the head of the shelter for victims of domestic violence explained, many women complain about the arbitrariness of police and other persons.
All women tell us that their rapists bribe policemen, doctors and other persons. Everything can be bought for money, including men’s’ solidarity. The police suggest to victims to withdraw a report, claiming that we will come terms with each other. They do not want to be bothered with this, but is that acceptable? We, community workers, are often accused of interfering in other people’s lives. Once I was in court, and the judge told me in person that I did not let other people live, and that I was ruining the family’s life. We do not impose our opinion on them, we just help. We know that half of the women will still return to the family of the rapist. When a woman comes to us, we already know that in 10 days she will return to her husband. But we will help her anyway.”
The shelter currently provides eight types of social services in accordance with the standard approved by the order of the Minister of Health and Social Development of the Republic of Kazakhstan of December 21, 2016. №1079, and also in the context of compliance with the Law of the Republic of Kazakhstan “On Special Social Services.” This includes social, medical, legal, socio-psychological, socio-pedagogical, socio-labor, socio-economic and socio-cultural services.
The period of temporary stay in the shelter is up to 6 months, but in exceptional cases up to 9 months. During the day time, stays range from 2 to 6 hours.
Margarita Uskembaeva believes that people who are prone to violence, for the most part, are weak personalities, with low self-esteem. Having resisted once, one can root out the violence against yourself.
There are women who do not want to be a victim. I am against the victim’s victimization, when they say “that the victim blames herself for being a victim.” I believe that everyone can become a victim, but not everyone can fight back. Abusers are usually cowards, they feel that the woman is weaker. Women change during pregnancy, lactation, and men require constant attention and eternal devotion. In such periods, violence takes on severe forms. Women should remember that they do not have to endure beatings, humiliation and other forms of violence. Women have rights and those who are victims of violence can count on our protection,” the director of the shelter concluded.
As a rule, women who are beaten in their families are afraid to ask for help from others. The first step that a woman who is tired of bullying can make is to call a psychological assistance service trust line.
Every year, more than 30 thousand women who suffered from domestic violence appeal to the Kazakhstani police. Over the past five years, the number of crimes committed against women has increased almost four-fold. Because of domestic violence, about 400 women die annually.
Contact details of the shelter and KSU “Crisis center for victims of domestic violence”:
Almaty, Seifullin St. 577, corner of Shevchenko street, on weekdays from 9.00 to 18.00 or by phone 150 (free of charge, anonymously, around the clock)
Hotline of the shelter “ARASHA” 317 57 17 (works 24 hours around the clock).
If you are a victim of violence, seek help from law enforcement. Remember that the law is on your side!