JOINT STATEMENT BY UN HEADS OF AGENCIES IN THE REPUBLIC OF KAZAKHSTAN ON THE INTERNATIONAL DAY FOR THE ELIMINATION OF VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN

22 NOVEMBER 2017

‘Orange the world: Leave No One Behind – End Violence against Women’

November 25 marks the start of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, a global campaign to call attention to what remains a pervasive and often voiceless problem in communities worldwide.  

In 2017, the campaign’s theme is ‘Orange the World: Leave No One Behind. End Violence against Women and Girls’, in line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. It emphasizes the importance of not leaving anyone out and reaching all, even the most vulnerable groups of women and girls. Everyone has the right to a life without violence, regardless of gender, age, race, nationality, sexual orientation, citizenship, place of residence, and HIV, social or other status. Yet, it is a problem everywhere, every day.  One in three women globally have experienced violence at some point in their lives.

At the heart of violence are gender inequality and discrimination. Violence has a negative impact on women and girls’ physical, mental and sexual health. Worldwide, one in four (176 million) children under age of five lives with a mother who is a victim of intimate partner violence. Children who witness violence against their mother experience deep emotional trauma and require psychological, physical and legal assistance. Domestic violence has a tendency to be passed down through generations: children who grow up in violent households are at a higher risk of repeating the same behavioural patterns. Adolescent girls aged 15 to 19 continue to suffer from sexual violence often perpetrated by someone known or close to them. Only 1 per cent of adolescent girls in such cases reach out for professional help. The consequences of violence are also harmful to families – especially children - communities and the country’s development and, consequently, have a negative impact on the achievement of the global development goals.

The problem of violence is real and is prevalent in Kazakhstan.

Conducted by the Committee on Statistics under the Ministry of National Economy of the Republic of Kazakhstan - and supported by three UN agencies in Kazakhstan: UN Women, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and World Health Organization (WHO), a recent study, the first of its kind in Kazakhstan and in the region, showed that violence against women in Kazakhstan is prevalent in all groups of society, and has serious health and social implications. It was found that 17% of women in Kazakhstan reported having been subjected in their lifetime to physical and/or sexual violence at the hands of an intimate partner. 21% of women reported that they had experienced psychological violence, and 7% - economic violence. One out of every third woman in Kazakhstan is exposed to at least one form of controlling behaviour by an intimate partner. Approximately half of the women admitted that they had never told anyone about the violence. According to 2015 Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey, 14.2% of surveyed women thought a husband could be justified in hitting or beating his wife for reasons such as going out without telling one’s husband and burning the food.

Inequality, social norms and stereotypes that condone and promote violence have made violence widespread, but not inevitable. With legislation that protects women and punishes perpetrators, rehabilitation services for women and comprehensive early prevention measures supported by robust investments, eliminating violence against women and girls can become a reality.

Kazakhstan has set ending violence of women and girls as a priority. To this end, under the auspices of the National Commission for Women's Affairs and Family and Demographic Policy under the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan, the General Prosecutor's Office has launched the ‘Kazakhstan without Violence’ initiative. The initiative is to bring together efforts of all relevant state bodies, and non-governmental and international organisations to develop a comprehensive set of measures to prevent and respond to violence, strengthen intersectoral cooperation and monitor the effectiveness of the measures taken. Most importantly however, the initiative doubles as a proposal for reviewing domestic violence legislation.

At the UN, we believe that a country like Kazakhstan, which has already made significant progress in addressing violence against women and girls, has every chance to prevent and end such violence. Let us all take action to end violence against women and girls. 

We call upon the government, civil society, media, and communities in Kazakhstan to continue to step up the effort to end violence and other harmful practices by 2030. We must end this scourge, end impunity, and ensure every woman’s and every girl’s equal opportunity to develop and to thrive – let our actions speak our commitment to leave no one behind.