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Child Abuse in Kyrgyzstan and Georgia: Similar Issues, Different Approaches

In both countries, families become mainly child abusers.

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* This publication was prepared as part of the summer training programme for journalists of CABAR.asia in Georgia.

In Kyrgyzstan, according to UNICEF, there are 2.1 million children. They amount to 36.5 per cent of the population. 11 per cent of children have at least one parent working abroad, and 5 per cent have both parents working abroad. The majority of victims of violence are children of migrants, who were left behind with relatives.

In Georgia, the number of children under 14 years old is only 14.6 per cent of the population. According to interior ministry, own parents or stepfathers commit violence basically.

See alsoIn Tajikistan, It Is Recommended to Bear Less Kids, in Georgia, Maternity Funds Increase

A child dragged by a car

On April 27, a man tied his nephew to a BMW in Altyn Kazyl housing estate of Bishkek and dragged him 20 metres “for educational purposes” because he allegedly stole money. The 8-year-old Zhanarbek lived with his grandmother and uncle, he doesn’t have a father, and his mother was working in Russia.

The neighbours called the police and the uncle of the child was detained. However, the Pervomaisky district court of Bishkek placed the 33-year-old man under house arrest.

Right after the accident, the mother of the child arrived at Kyrgyzstan. She is going to take Zhanarbek with her and assuring she is having conditions for her child to study and live with her in Russia.

According to the analysis of the General Prosecutor Office of Kyrgyzstan, one of the reasons of on-going upsurge of crimes committed both against the minors and by the minors is external and internal migration.

The minors are left behind with elderly grandparents and also relatives who cannot control their pastime for the reasons of advanced age and busyness.

By results of household rounds made by internal affairs department, the country was found to have 78,930 children of external and internal migrants. 82 per cent of them were residing in southern regions of Kyrgyzstan.

According to the interior ministry of Georgia, in five months of 2019, 110 parents in the country were found to have committed violence against their children. Out of them, mothers were abusers in 15 cases, and fathers or stepfathers in 95 cases. Child-abusing parents were detained in 79 per cent of cases.

Children were most often hit on the face, head, and also threatened and systematically abused psychologically or physically.

Unlike Kyrgyzstan, where the society has not yet arrived at making children report violence to the police, in Georgia 32 children of 110 reported violence to the police for five months this year. However, a child’s mother or grandmother is the one who often report such facts.  Neighbours or social services report such cases less frequently.

The Georgian interior ministry said the society is getting more concerned with years.  According to it, the number of reports to the police has increased this year. However, neighbours and others remain indifferent and rarely report the cases of violence against children.

The interior ministry of Georgia has established the witness and victim coordinator service for a robust protection of interests of the minors during legal proceedings. Its purpose is to provide psychological support to children during the investigation and help them overcome the stress after the violence.

“According to Georgian interior ministry, 42 per cent of children get abused at home, 12 per cent become victims of sexual abuse. The most widespread form is psychological violence, although mixed forms also take place. We have a legislation related to the child abuse. We need to improve the investigation process and must involve a child psychologist not to have children traumatised again,” said Eliso Rukhadze, a lawyer of the non-governmental human rights organisation Sapari.

Tbilisi. Photo: CABAR.asia

Violence for educational purposes

However, it would be unjust to think that only children of migrants suffer in Kyrgyzstan. Children from two-parent families, as well as pupils of educational institutions also become the victims of violence.

Some parents practice violence against their children as punishment. On May 12, the children’s hospital No. 3 of Bishkek reported to the police that a beaten child was delivered to them. A seven-year-old boy was beaten by his father “for educational purposes” for playing in the neighbour’s house and falling asleep there.

The police registered this case as “Domestic violence” under the Code of Offences. This case exemplifies how crimes against children are treated softly.

“Just recently, the new reform of the Children’s Code has been introduced to the parliament, which prohibits physical punishment and makes it obligatory to register the relationship to children left behind after migration. We think this phenomenon must be struggled against at all level and we need to encourage the change of cultural norms and laws,” Aiperi Alymbekova, an officer of the UNICEF communications department, said.

Tbilisi. Photo: CABAR.asia

In Georgia, according to the survey of the United Nations Children’s Fund, 45 per cent of population think physical abuse of children is acceptable. Almost 60 per cent are sure that violent forms of punishment are more effective than non-violent methods of parenting.

“The survey also demonstrates that the overwhelming majority of people, including such specialists as teachers, social workers and police, think that family affairs are private and others should not interfere,” Maya Kurtsikidze, the chief of UNICEF communication programme in Georgia, said.

According to her, this opinion is still deemed one of the main barriers to reporting and referring cases of violence against children.

What countries do to eliminate child abuse

On June 1, 2019, on the International Children’s Day, Kyrgyzstan launched the national campaign Tumar to prevent child abuse.

The idea behind the campaign is to change the perception of child abuse, prohibit physical punishment, and make parents ware of positive education. This is the result of consolidation of the state and international, non-governmental and community-based organisations.

It will last until the end of the year and its slogan is “I will become a protective talisman for children, Tumar!”.

“Every adult following the slogan should protect every child from ills and threats,” the presidential administration said then.

Georgia passed legislative amendments in 2014 and 2016 to clearly define, prevent and protect children from abuse. Comprehensive procedures of children protection referral were introduced in September 2010 and bound all relevant ministries and municipalities to identify the signs of children abuse, analyse them and report them to the Social Service Agency. It, in turn, is responsible for verification of cases of abuse, planning of biopsychosocial rehabilitation measures, control of their implementation and child welfare.

According to Maya Kurtsikidze, specialists of relevant state institutions are being trained, and procedures and instruments for such procedures are being developed. As a result, the number of reports to the Social Service Agency related to suspected cases of abuse is gradually increasing, which has put more pressure on psychosocial rehabilitation services, which are few in the country.

In November 2017, the government of Georgia declared its intention to join the global partnership to end violence against children, and in 2018 it became the initiator of the global partnership.

By the end of the year we’ll see if Kyrgyzstan can solve some tasks set during the national campaign Tumar designed to end violence against children. However, the experience of Georgia shows that it could take years and continuous efforts should be made in this regard to achieve certain changes.

This article was prepared as part of the Giving Voice, Driving Change – from the Borderland to the Steppes Project implemented with the financial support of the Foreign Ministry of Norway. The opinions expressed in the article do not reflect the position of the editorial or donor.

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