Domestic violence an underlying issue of Covid-19 pandemic in Kazakhstan

Domestic violence an underlying issue of Covid-19 pandemic in Kazakhstan

Center for Health, Policy and Management at Suleyman Demirel University is supporting a ‘16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence’ international campaign  challenging violence against women and girls starting November 25 on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.

Before the pandemic, domestic violence in Kazakhstan became one of the most publicly discussed issues with the rise of the global #metoo movement. According to the UN-Women statistics, in Kazakhstan around 400 women become victims of domestic violence every year.

The government has yet to take action to criminalize domestic violence, as the Law on Prevention Domestic Violence (2009) and Criminal Code do not define domestic violence as a criminal offence. In fact, “battery” and “intentional infliction of light bodily harm” became decriminalized diminishing criminal prosecution in most instances of domestic violence .  Consequently, official statistics of the Ministry of Internal Affairs states a 103.7% increase compared to 2017, and a 90% increase of violence against women and children compared to 2015 .

A March 2019 lockdown has had a significant negative effect on domestic violence instances, 25%  increase during the first half of 2020. According to polls, 38% of respondents experienced worsened relationships with their closest family members. In April 2020, a domestic violence hotline reported a 50% jump in the received calls mostly from women . Recent studies show the Covid-19 pandemic affecting men and women, emphasizing the vulnerability of women in what is supposed to be a safe place – home.  The public needs to take action towards acknowledging the issue and taking actions to prevent a further increase in violence.

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