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Hundreds of protesters marched through Kyrgyzstan’s capital Bishkek on the occasion of International Women’s Day. demanding Police and courts should stop turning a blind eye to violence against women and girls.

March 8 protests shed light on many things cases Which has sparked public outrage over gender-based violence in the country in recent years. Weak law enforcement means domestic abuse and other violence against women and girls remains common.

In April 2022, AJ, A 13 year old The girl died by suicide in Bishkek, five months after district police investigators released the man who abducted her and sexually assaulted her for three days before the police could find them. The makeshift investigation into her abuse was closed on the grounds that a medical expert concluded that “the girl in her age looked to be 17-18 years old.”

AJ’s family had to push for almost a year Year After the case was closed before the authorities, a criminal investigation was initiated against two investigating officers and an expert who ruled out guilt on the basis of the presence of AJ.

in another Case In northern Kyrgyzstan, community members are forcing a mother and her 9-year-old daughter to move out of their village after she filed a complaint against a neighbor for sexually assaulting the girl. The mother believes law enforcement officers violated confidentiality by revealing details of the case to neighbors, who have united behind the accused man. The investigating officers also insisted on mediating between the girl and her alleged abuser, and tried to force her to meet in person. Citing the girl’s terror at confronting her abuser, the mother managed to stop the meeting. The case is currently being investigated by regional prosecutors.

Efforts to raise awareness can also trigger controversy. In January, Altynai Botoyarova, Kyrgyzstan’s representative at the Miss Universe beauty pageant, wearing a cape A Kyrgyz woman in a traditional dress is shown pressing against a red splatter of paint with several hands. Her effort to raise global awareness of the culture of silence and shame around gender-based violence in his country Her own embarrassment occurred during the pageant. commentators Describing Botoyarova’s choice as humiliating in Kyrgyzstan, he said that it had hurt the country’s reputation.

It is time for the Kyrgyz authorities to take decisive steps to prevent gender-based violence and increase accountability. They should make police and court inaction criminally punishable by law, and provide adequate support, including mental health care, to survivors. Women and girls can no longer afford to turn a blind eye to them.

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