COVID-19-related restrictions have led to increase in the number of robberies, thefts and domestic violence cases in Tajikistan.
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In late April, the Tajik authorities confirmed pandemic in the country, reported 15 infection cases, and decided to close the largest non-food markets. Many people, at least in the capital, had to stay at home for some time to prevent the spread of the pandemic.
All these restrictions, together with the deterioration of the Tajik migrants’ situation in Russia, led to an increase in poverty and unemployment in the country. The social networks and media more frequently report violence and crimes.
At the end of May, the video appeared on social networks of the brutal beating of two children by their own father in Khujand, which caused wide public discussion.
According to the children’s mother, who is in Russia and lost her job because of quarantine restrictions, her husband beat the children and recorded it on video because she did not transfer him money.
“I sent him a lot of money. But when I am left without money and cannot send anything, he beats children like that,” the woman said in a video interview with Tajik blogger Dilovar Safarov.
On May 26, the investigative department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs in Khujand reported that a criminal case was opened against the torturer, 34-year-old Firdavs Inomzod. He was convicted under Article 117, paragraph c of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Tajikistan, which provides for imprisonment for three to seven years.
Article 117. Torture
1) Causing physical or mental sufferings by systematic assault c) in relation to a minor or individual knowingly for an offender being careless or in financial or other dependence of an offender, as well as an individual kidnapped or taken as a hostage.
According to the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Inomzoda regularly beat his children: Ilhomjon, 7 and Sumaya, 6.
In 2017, Firdavs Inomzoda was already held liable for the sale of counterfeit bills.
Inomzoda claims that he beat the children to get consent to divorce from his wife sooner, so that, “having seen her children suffer, she would return to her homeland and divorce” and give him permission for a new marriage.
“This is why I did this and I sincerely regret it now,” Inomzoda said in the video of the press service of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, broadcast on state TV channels.
According to the Agency on Statistics under the President of the Republic of Tajikistan, over the five months of this year (from January to May), the overall crime rate in the country decreased. However, the Agency admitted the 14% increase in theft and 23% in robbery.
In May, however, the situation worsened. According to the Agency on Statistics, the number of murders and attempted murders in May of this year compared to the same period last year increased by 62%, apartment thefts – by 35%, and robberies – by 75%.
In May, the registration of hooliganism and thefts cases also increased (by 5% and 13%, respectively).
The Tajik Ministry of Internal Affairs has not yet published its crime statistics for the past three months.
However, the website of the Ministry of Internal Affairs is recently full of reports of theft, robbery and stabbing, including cases among close relatives.
For example, this week, the Ministry of Internal Affairs reported seven crimes, including two cases of stabbing during the arguments among relatives.
Did Poverty Trigger Violence?
Strict quarantine measures were not introduced in Tajikistan. However, according to the experts, the restrictions and aggravation of the migrants’ situation in Russia contribute to the growth of crime and domestic violence rate.
Madina Nizomova, lawyer of the Gamkhori (“Care” – Tr.) public organization, which works mainly with female victims of domestic violence, told CABAR.asia about the increase in complaints and appeals during the coronavirus pandemic.
“This situation has affected people’s lives. The main source of income for most families was migration, but during this period, everyone lost their jobs in Russia. Remittances decreased. The families faced difficulties, some lost their loved ones, and this was a serious psychological trauma,” says Nizomova.
According to the latest statistics from the Central Bank of Russia, migrants sent $359 million to Tajikistan in the first three months of this year, which is $103 million, or 22% less than during the same period last year.
According to experts, for half a month of quarantine, money transfers decreased by 22% in general. Economists say reducing money transfers from Russia to Tajikistan will increase poverty rate.
Experts especially notice the increase of domestic violence. Conflicts that arise in families because of domestic or socio-economic problems end with murders sometimes.
Abdurahmon Sanginov, Rudaki district resident, recently filed a complaint with the Prosecutor General and the Ministry of the Internal Affairs requesting to investigate his son’s death. Shahobiddin Sanginov, 26, died in a hospital on May 21, after being stabbed during a family argument.
The incident occurred in Chortut village of Rudaki district. According to Abdurahmon Sanginov, the day before his son’s death, the brother of one of his daughters-in-law, along with seven friends, broke into his house at night and beat Shahobiddin. The conflict did not end there; the next day, his son was fatally stabbed while he was in his aunt’s house in Chimteppa village.
“The next morning, when I went to work, my son and his children went to his aunt’s house in Chimteppa. They looked for him and found him in the aunt’s house, stabbed him in front of the house,” says Sanginov.
According to Abdurahmon Sanginov, doctors delayed his son’s admission under the quarantine excuse. The father believes that his son could survive if he received medical care promptly.
Vatan Abdurahmanov, the former judge, director of the Public Legal Aid Center, also confirmed that the number of appeals to the center has recently increased.
According to Abdurahmanov, many people remained at home without work during the coronavirus period, which increased psychological stress in families. According to him, combined with the deterioration of the economic situation, this has led to an increase in the number of conflicts and crimes, especially in families.
On the other hand, according to him, the closure of schools, sports and cultural centers also affected the growth of crime among adolescents.
“Everything is closed, teenagers and young people go around outside with nothing to do. This can lead to crimes such as theft and robbery,” said Abdurahmanov.
He believes that the increase in crime rates during the pandemic can have drastic consequences.
“In particular, this situation may lead to divorces increase and increase in the number of homeless children,” said the lawyer.
According to his forecast, problems may worsen when hundreds of migrants who have lost their jobs in Russia receive permission to return home.
“The government should take strict measures and provide people with jobs to prevent these negative consequences,” says Abdurahmanov.
This material has been prepared as part of the Giving Voice, Driving Change – from the Borderland to the Steppes Project. The opinions expressed in the article do not reflect the position of the editorial board or donor.