Kazakhstan. ‘Only together’ can ‘silent pandemic’ of gender-based violence be overcome, says UN deputy chief |

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It was the fourth leg of his Central Asia tour, having visited Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

Coalitions must be built

“According to official statistics, one in three women has experienced domestic violence at some point in her life,” the UN deputy chief said, opening a meeting with representatives of civil society organizations involved in the Spotlight Initiative, a joint United Nations-European Union programme. to combat gender-based violence.

“Lately, especially during the pandemic (COVID-19), we have seen the appalling scale of this problem,” she added.

“SDG 5 (achieve gender equality) is key to achieving all the other SDGs,” she said. “If you count how many days an abused woman misses work, you can understand how a silent pandemic negatively affects the economy and GDP of any country.”

The UN wants to hear first-hand information from those who work directly with victims of domestic violence on the ground, to understand how to make the Spotlight initiative even more effective.

The local director of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Society, Malika Zhusupova, told Ms. Mohammed of the difficulties her team had to face.

Burden of proof

There are loopholes in the law which mean, for example, that a woman who accuses her husband of beating her must provide the court with a medical certificate that her injuries forced her to spend at least 21 days in hospital.

And an accused rapist can only be charged based on the testimony of doctors.

Few women will agree to lie in hospital for so many days, leaving their children unattended, to leave work. Sometimes we have to fight to prove that a woman has suffered,” Ms Zhusupova said.

The Under-Secretary-General said that in such cases, NGOs should work closely with lawyers, parliamentarians and others to change or amend existing laws and shift the balance of power.

“The UN has worked in this way in many parts of the world,” she said. “For example, in Latin America, there are many cases where the death of a woman at the hands of her husband is treated in court as simple domestic violence. Here you have to create a coalition of your supporters among lawyers, parliamentarians, presidential administration, government, because it is always easier to work together“, she says.

© Unsplash/Alexander Serzhantov

A view of Almaty in Kazakhstan.

Burnout

Executive Director of the Public Fund, Daris – 2016, Gulnur Idigeeva, speaking at the meeting, raised the problem of psychological exhaustion faced by NGO employees who help victims of violence.

It is impossible to remain indifferent and psychologically calm after difficult life situations that victims of violence present to us“, she says.

“People don’t resist such psychological impacts and they give up. Are there special trainings or services that would help advocates for victims of violence to go through rehabilitation? »

Amina Mohammad agreed that burnout is one of the important issues that has not received the attention it deserves.


Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed visits Kazakhstan where she met with local NGOs.

“During my travels in different countries, I was shocked by the work of a woman who provided psychological assistance to victims of violence. I asked her how she coped with such a heavy moral burden, to which she replied that it was the first time she had been asked such a question and that she was trying to find support on her own and strength to recover.

Ms. Mohammed said the Spotlight Initiative should now consider adding a psychological rehabilitation component to its program, for those working with victims of violence: “Well, Kazakhstan has proposed a new component to the UN programshe exclaimed.

Bring the men aboard

According to the deputy UN chief, it is important to involve local leaders, including men in positions of authority, in efforts to end violence against women.

We must organize a movement to create a society without violencesaid Ms. Mohammed, who includes some of those generally considered “macho” types, to condemn such violence.

She said it was also important to involve young people “in this social movement, because we have to reach out to the next generation. Men need to be educated from an early age,” she suggested.

She said the UN plans to expand funding for the Spotlight Initiative, and not just through partners, the EU.

“There are already other countries that have responded positively to our offer of financial assistance so that the Spotlight program can be extended. And now we need your support so that this silent pandemic, which no one notices, is finally, completely eradicated,” she concluded.

High level meetings

The Deputy Secretary-General also met President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev during his visit to Kazakhstan. The meeting focused on a range of issues, including the government’s efforts to make state institutions more people-centric, Kazakhstan’s voluntary national review of its plans to help limit global warming and climate change. climate change in line with the Paris Agreement, and plans to operationalize a commitment to decarbonization, by 2060.

The Deputy Secretary-General also met with Deputy Foreign Minister Akan Rakhmetullinas well as with the United Nations country team. From Kazakhstan, Amina Mohammed went to Kyrgyzstan.

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