November 29, 2023
Cited article by Viktoriya Kim, Human Rights Watch
HRRC condemns the lack of broader protections for victims of domestic violence in Kazakhstan. We urge the government to take decisive action by criminalizing domestic violence to ensure the safety and protection of women in Kazakhstan.
The death of Saltanat Nukenova in Kazakhstan has ignited widespread concern and renewed calls for action against domestic violence. Saltanat, the 31-year-old wife of former economy minister Kuandyk Bishimbayev, was tragically found dead on November 9. The incident has intensified the spotlight on the pervasive issue of domestic abuse in Kazakhstan, a country that currently lacks specific criminalization of domestic violence. Despite ongoing legislative discussions to partially criminalize certain forms of family abuse, such as repeated "battery" and "light bodily harm," these proposed measures are deemed insufficient.
The high-profile nature of Saltanat's case has spurred a media storm, prompting various segments of Kazakh society, including athletes, artists, business people, bloggers, and lawyers, to advocate for more robust actions. Around 150,000 citizens have signed a petition proposing the decriminalization of "battery" and "intentional infliction of light bodily harm." Parliamentary deputy Zhuldyz Suleimenova, from the ruling Amanat party, has even proposed comprehensive criminalization of all forms of violence against women and children, coupled with the establishment of a separate authority to combat domestic violence. The public's strong stance on this issue underscores the urgent need for the government to respond by criminalizing domestic violence and holding abusers accountable.