Police say they investigate cases and visit homes where children might be at risk.
A recent case of child sexual abuse has sparked outrage in Kyrgyzstan, and also a debate about how to identify it and punish the perpetrators.
Police launched a criminal investigation after a two-year-old boy in the Chui region was brought into hospital with severe injuries that indicated sexual assault. An interior ministry spokesman told IWPR that family members initially claimed the child had fallen down some stairs, but his uncle and aunt later confessed to beating him although they denied sexual assaulting him. The investigation is ongoing.
The interior ministry says the case is “not unique”, and its child welfare officers are monitoring families where they think children are being hit or otherwise assaulted. The police’s child welfare section can impose protection orders against relatives and also against teachers and others.
Experts say children’s homes need to be watched since the children there are so wholly reliant on adults. Another vulnerable group are the children of Kyrgyzstan’s army of labour migrants, who may leave them behind in the care of distant relatives or even near-strangers. Police are currently investigating the rape of a nine-year-old left in the care of her uncle while her mother was working away from home.
From this year, the police’s child welfare service plans to visit homes of this kind, too, but the force is also urging neighbours and others to report anything suspicious.
In response to the case of the two-year-old child, Prime Minister Joomart Otorbaev floated the idea of restoring capital punishment – abolished in 2007 – specifically for sexual assaults on minors.
A recent attempt to legislate for chemical castration of convicted paedophiles was dropped after President Almazbek Atambaev spoke out against it, and parliament instead voted to increase the prison term to life.
Meerim Asanaly is IWPR’s radio editor in Kyrgystan.
This audio programme went out in Russian and Kyrgyz on national radio stations in Kyrgyzstan. It was produced under two IWPR projects, Investigative Journalism to Promote Democratic Reform, funded by the European Union; and Strengthening Capacities, Bridging Divides in Central Asia, funded by the Foreign Ministry of Norway. The contents of this article are the sole responsibility of IWPR and can in no way be taken to reflect the views of the EU or the Norwegian government.