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Kyrgyz Women Politicians, Activists March In Bishkek

Some 30 female politicians and rights activists marched in Bishkek today to raise the issue of women's rights on International Women's Day, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reports.

The demonstrators gathered near a monument to Soviet-era female activist Urkiya Salieva and marched to the monument of Kurmanzhan Datka, the 19th-century female ruler of Kyrgyzstan's southern regions.

Former Foreign Minister Roza Otunbaeva, the leader of the opposition Social Democratic party faction in parliament, said during the march that although the government put up monuments to prominent female historical figures, there are currently thousands of women facing domestic violence and other problems in the country who do not receive any attention or government support.

Aziza Abdyrasulova, chairwoman of the human rights organization Kylym Shamy (Torch of the Century), told RFE/RL that the goal of the march was to focus the government's attention on these problems.

In 2009, the number of women seeking shelter because of domestic violence against them increased by 40 percent over the previous year.