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Hidden Violence: What Is Economic Abuse and How to Recognize It?

Most often, abuse implies beatings, rape, or psychological pressure, yet, it can also be economic.

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Together with the human rights lawyer and founding curator of Global Shapers Tashkent Hub Dilfuza Kurolova, we analyse what economic abuse is, how to recognize it and how to protect yourself from it.

What is economic abuse?

Economic abuse is a form of abuse when a person is deprived of food, housing, property, money, or any other financial resources to which a person is legally entitled.

How to recognize it?

Speaking about family relationships, the crisis centres provide the following examples in their materials:

  • financial control, when a partner is forced to constantly report on the money spent, or is deprived of money;
  • accusations of dependency;
  • restrictions to study, to work, to build a career;
  • eviction from home;
  • refusal to support children or to pay a loan received by a partner, etc.
It means that only a person who has a larger income can commit economic abuse?

Not always. Domestic economic abuse can take many forms. There are cases when, for example, a husband takes away his wife’s earnings and deprives her of the opportunity to manage her own income.

Can such form of abuse occur outside of family relationships, for example, at work?

Yes. Extortion in the workplace and non-payment of salaries in the informal sector are common, especially, when the employment is unofficial. In such cases, the international economic human rights standards and a Labour Code can protect from the economic abuse.

The UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights guarantees fair and favourable working conditions that include freedom from violence and harassment. It also identifies specific groups of workers, who should receive fair, favourable and non-discriminatory working conditions from the state. These groups include migrants, women, the elderly, people with disabilities, home workers, workers of the informal sector, self-employed, refugees, etc.

How is domestic economic abuse regulated?

A law on protection of women from all forms of harassment and abuse functions in Uzbekistan. However, speaking of domestic violence, the implementation of this law does not guarantee the victim’s protection from economic abuse, since it is associated with human and psychological factors.

Speaking about public relations, such as the labour relationship between an employee and an employer, not only this law, but also the Labour Code of Uzbekistan fully protects employee’s right to work. Moreover, in case of any form of discrimination or abuse (including economic) against the employee, he/she can restore the violated right in the court.

What should one do when faced with economic abuse?

If the abuse occurs within the family, one has to contact the police or law enforcement agencies. If this happened at work, first, one has to address the labour disputes commission or local trade union (if any), or the Federation of Trade Unions and/or the Labour Inspectorate under the Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations.

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