The number of crimes against sexual integrity of minors is growing every year in Kazakhstan.
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On July 23, at 9 PM, Zhezkazgan resident contacted the police of Satpayev city of Karaganda region of Kazakhstan and reported the disappearance of his five-year-old daughter. The residents started to search for the child and found her in one of the apartments in a high-rise building.
The suspect was a 58-year-old man. He was arrested for two months and accused of kidnapping and raping a child.
This incident caused a wide reaction: people demanded to hand over a man to them for the punishment. They knocked to every apartment, and then the crowd headed towards the city’s akimat and the police department. Several cars were burned, social networks users wrote that shooting was heard in the city.
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According to statistics, over the past five years, 4,836 cases on crimes against sexual integrity of minors were opened in Kazakhstan. On average, this is about three cases per day.
The experts explain the sharp drop in the number of crimes in 2016 by the fact that during this period the country began to actively discuss this problem and raise the issue of introducing chemical castration, which was introduced later in 2018.
On January 1, 2020, the amendments to the legislation were introduced in Kazakhstan, according to which the violence changed its status from crime of average gravity to serious. Now, the punishment for violence against children under 14 is up to 20 years in prison or life imprisonment.
In addition, liability for misprision, concealment or falsification of facts of pedophilia has been introduced. Now, this is considered a felony with a maximum imprisonment of 6 years.
However, not all cases are punished. Of these 4836 criminal cases during five years, only 1868 people were sentenced: that is 39%.
The leader of the movement “NeMolchi.kz” [“Do Not Be Silent” – Tr.] Dina Tansari believes that the available measures in Kazakhstan to counter violence against minors are ineffective. There is neither modern technical equipment for investigating such crimes, nor experts. The police tries to avoid tangled and complex cases and to close them in any way, so as not to remain guilty when the court hearings begin.
“The judges also do not want to be responsible for such cases, because they are not provided with enough evidence. Of course, many cases return to back to the investigation and justify the rapists. There were many not-guilty verdicts this year. Everything starts to move only after publicity, and not because of 100% proof,” says Tansari.
The data for 5.5 years of accusations under Article 124 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Kazakhstan (“Corruption of minors”), demonstrates that the victims of abusers are mainly children under 11 years of age.
The data on Article 122 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Kazakhstan “Sexual relationship or other actions of sexual nature with a person under 16 years of age” show that the most victims’ age shifts to the ‘14-15 years of age’ category.
The child safety center “Angel” in Almaty conducts courses on personal safety for children since 2016. During this time, about 12 thousand children have finished them, and before the start of training, everyone responds to a small survey. According to the Head of the center Zarina Dzhumagulova, the results show that everyone knows the safety rules that are taught at home and at school: “do not talk to strangers”, “do not take anything from a stranger”, “do not leave the yard”, etc. However, with further education, it turns out that among children from 6 to 11 years old:
- 9 out of 10 will leave safe space with a stranger.
- 8 out of 10 consider an unguarded entrance hall a safe place.
- 24 out of 30 identify a dangerous person by the appearance, not behavior.
- At least 20 out of 30 are physically unable or ashamed to shout loudly and call for help.
- 8 out of 10 believe that they cannot mentally and physically resist an adult.
- The situation with younger kids is even worse: they run to hug any stranger themselves, reflexively give their hand if an adult stretches out his hand, hide in secluded places in case of danger.
The expert notes that children do not know how to apply safety rules in real life, they are afraid to admit to a mistake if they suddenly violated the rule and do not tell adults what happened to them.
Parents are afraid to let their children go alone to school, to the sports, or outside. They have to accompany their children everywhere. One way or another, a child may face the situation where he is completely alone (lost his way, ran away from home or kindergarten) and does not know what to do not to become a criminals’ victim.
In addition, experts note that most of the crimes against children are committed by relatives or people close to the family and friends.
A Sense of Impunity
The legislation of Kazakhstan defines the status of such criminals differently. For persons who committed a crime against sexual integrity, conditional conviction is not applied, as well as release from criminal liability in connection with repentance or reconciliation. In addition, release on parole and the replacement of the unserved part of the sentence with a milder form are not applied to them. They are not exempted from serving their sentences in connection with the expiration of the limitations of a conviction, on the basis of an amnesty or pardon.
Convicted persons leave places of imprisonment with administrative supervision for up to 3 years. This means that the criminal has no right to leave his place of residence, to visit certain places. In addition, he is prohibited from communicating with minors by any means without their parents’ consent.
However, according to Dina Tansari, such supervision is actually only a mere name.
“They are under general administrative control, like any criminal in Kazakhstan who gets out of prison. What does it mean? He must come himself, check in and claim that everything is fine with him,” says Tansari, citing a case that happened in the USA in 1994 as an example.
Then, a seven-year-old girl Megan Kanka died at the hands of a criminal. This crime caused a wide discussion and two years later, the “Megan’s Law” was introduced. According to it, all pedophiles were taken under strict control, they wear electronic devices that show their location. They are prohibited from approaching childcare facilities closer than 500 meters.
“They also receive a daily dose of psychotropic drugs that suppress their aggression and sexual desire. If they miss such control for even one day, they will immediately searched for to establish the reason for their absence. Third, so that the community knows that a pedophile lives next to them, his photographs hang around the neighborhood,” says Tansari.
In 2016, Nursultan Nazarbayev signed amendments to the legislative acts on the protection of the rights of the child, which, among other things, provide for the chemical castration of pedophiles. It came into force two years later, on January 1, 2018.
The chemical castration is applied by a court decision and on the basis of a forensic psychiatric examination. Professionals should diagnose pedophilia, which is a sexual desire disorder. Then, the healthcare organization, which provides outpatient psychiatric care, provides the medical and prophylactic institution of the criminal executive system with an antiandrogenic drug. After that, within three working days from the date of receipt of the recommendation on the chemical castration appointment and based on the results of the examination, doctors determine the choice of an antiandrogenic drug.
Every three months, specialists examine the convict to determine the effect of injections on the body, and every six months, forensic experts check whether the procedures need to be extended. After serving the term of imprisonment, the drug injections are continued at the place of residence until the complete absence of desire.
In Kazakhstan, for the first time the chemical castration was used in December 2019 against four pedophiles. However, as the statistics of repeated crimes show, such a measure is not visible effective.
Own “Megan’s Law” is Needed
In Kazakhstan, since 2016, the photos, data and locations of people who have committed violence against children, after a court verdict are being published on a special resource of the General Prosecutor’s Office. Currently, it contains information about 206 criminals released from prisons.
According to Zarina Dzhumagulova, this is important information that every parent and head of an organization related to work with children should know when hiring an employee.
“If you hire a team of builders, a driver, a worker, a coach, a tutor, a security guard, you need to check the pedophile database to see whether this person is registered. On the one hand, it is the adults’ responsibility to monitor who has the right to contact the child,” said Dzhumagulova.
However, she notes that the danger can be not only on the streets, but also online. Being within arm’s reach from the parent, the child can be subjected to sexual harassment, cyberbullying, extortion, sexual abuse, fraud and other crimes. Therefore, children need to learn the skills of moral and physical resistance in dangerous situations.
“Children cannot always be under our supervision. There are situations when parents and other adults are not around, and the child must independently make a decision in favor of personal safety,” says Dzhumagulova.
In turn, Dina Tansari notes that in addition to imprisonment, it is also necessary to introduce compensation of material damage to the victims.
“People have to move, change schools, even hide from their relatives, because we still have the “uyat” (“shame”) in our mentality. They are trying to hide this child that everyone knows about. Here, the compensation of the damage should be lifelong; the measures should be severe. In order to achieve social condemnation, we also need our own “Megan’s Law” in Kazakhstan,” Tansari notes.