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Tajikistan: When Justice Assaults a Woman

Fighting back the husband’s and his relatives’ abuse is a rare case for a Tajik woman. However, when it occurs, the law and its officers join the abusers.


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Oynihol Bobonazarova. Photo: CABAR.asia
Oynihol Bobonazarova. Photo: CABAR.asia

Muhabbat, 27, resident of the Sughd region in Northern Tajikistan is serving her 8-year prison sentence for murder of her husband. Muhabbat stabbed her husband in anger when he intended to beat her again. The court did not take into account the voluntary surrender and the fact that she was constantly subjected to domestic violence.

Human rights activists say that Tajik courts rarely consider these circumstances when delivering a verdict. Nevertheless, in this particular story, another fact is abnormal.

“Women rarely are willing to kill the abuser; on the contrary, they often commit suicide. There are some cases when a woman tries to protect herself, to leave the person who is abusing her,” says the well-known human rights activist and lawyer Oynihol Bobonazarova.

Lawyer Larisa Alexandrova stated that there is no research on the causes of female crimes in Tajikistan. However, in her opinion, Tajik women commit crimes because of the despair, as well as abuse from their husbands and relatives.

Larisa Alexandrova. Photo: osce.org
Larisa Alexandrova. Photo: osce.org

“Research that was conducted in 2016 in Kyrgyzstan showed that most women end up in jail for murder of their husbands because they have been victims of domestic violence for years. In Tajikistan, a similar research on the reasons why women commit murder or attack men or relatives has not been completed yet,” she said.

Does Domestic Violence Push Women to Commit a Crime?

In 2015, a 24-year-old Vahdat resident with an infant under 40 days old threw herself off a bridge into the river. The random witnesses saved the woman, but her child died.

The woman was accused of intentionally killing her child. During interrogation, she stated that she did this because her husband daily beat her. By decision of a court, the woman was sentenced to 7 years in prison. However, no actions were taken against her husband.

Experts suggest that most women experience domestic violence in Tajikistan. However, fearing to break a marriage, they endure disrespect and violence.

According to Larisa Alexandrova, many Tajik women do not protect their rights and do not even know them.

Main photo: dw.com
Main photo: dw.com

“In such a situation, a woman must file a report and undergo a medical examination. Our women in such cases cannot protect themselves; they do not know about many things. Therefore, they need the help of the law, a lawyer. However, our country does not allocate free lawyers for such cases,” she said.

According to a Study by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), 137 women across the world are killed by a member of their own family every day. The Study emphasizes that the place of the murder is most often the victim’s home.

More than half of the 87 thousand women killed in 2017 were victims of the family members. Of these, about 30 thousand were killed by their partner – a husband or boyfriend; another 20 thousand were killed by family members. The researchers note that the number of female deaths resulting from domestic violence has increased compared to 2012.

What Solutions Does the Committee for Women and Family Suggest?

Madina Tosheva, a Specialist in the Committee for Women and Family under the Government of Tajikistan, said that this problem is relevant all over the world and cannot be avoided. According to the expert, not only the Committee, but also other authorities and civil society should contribute to solving this problem in order to overcome it in course of time.

“Government bodies alone cannot prevent domestic violence. It is necessary to work together with other state bodies, civil society and public organizations to solve this problem. In course of time, it will be resolved,” Tosheva said.

According to the Gender Resource Center on prevention of domestic violence of Tajikistan, for the 9 months of 2019, every woman was subjected to two or three types of violence. Physical abuse – 369 women, economical abuse – 848 women, mental abuse – 1084 women, sexual abuse – 16 women.

According to the source, the number of mothers-in-law and third parties who have committed violence against their daughters-in-law and sons-in-law during the last 9 months of this year is 252 people. Among them are 165 women and 87 men.

According to the Committee for Women and Family under the Government of Tajikistan, during the first six months of 2019, women committed 1,200 crimes in the country, which is 300 crimes more than during the same period in 2018.

According to the same source, most often women are convicted of theft, fraud and murder.

The Committee reports that there are currently about 300 women in the country’s only female prison in Norak. 158 female Tajik citizens are in prisons in other countries, including 90 in Russia, Turkey and China on various charges, including drug trafficking and murder.


“This article was prepared as part of the Giving Voice, Driving Change – from the Borderland to the Steppes Project”.

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