Human Rights Watch (HRW) is calling on the government of Kyrgyzstan to do far more to stop violence against women and girls, saying that weak enforcement of legislation aimed to prevent abuse and punish the perpetrators leaves half the population of the Central Asian country at risk.
New York-based HRW issued the call in a statement on May 28, a year and a day after the stabbing death of university student Burulai Turdaaly Kyzy by a man who authorities said abducted her for forced marriage caused an outcry and brought the issues of so-called "bride kidnapping" and violence against women and girls to the fore.
"A year after [Turdaaly Kyzy's] murder, it's outrageous that the government hasn't done everything possible to enforce laws that could save women's and girls' lives," Hillary Margolis, women's rights researcher at HRW, said in a statement. "Passing laws is a good first step, but it is far from enough to ensure real protection."
"Kyrgyzstan adopted a strengthened Family Violence Law in 2017, but weak enforcement of laws on violence against women and girls leaves them in jeopardy," the rights group said.
It said that police registered 2,701 cases of domestic violence in the first three months of 2019 and that two-thirds of the cases involved physical violence, but that data on bride kidnappings and on injuries or deaths resulting from domestic violence were missing.
HRW said that in addition to the 2017 legislation, a law passed in 2016 aimed to curb child marriage and forced marriage and the government introduced a provision criminalizing domestic violence in January 2019.
But the group, which conducted research in Kyrgyzstan in April, said that "inadequate enforcement of protection orders in cases of domestic abuse limits their effectiveness, as does uneven enforcement of laws to address bride kidnapping and child and forced marriage. Scarce government support for services for survivors of abuse leaves women and girls without a safety net."
In December, a Bishkek court convicted Mars Bodoshev, 29, of abducting and murdering Turdaaly Kyzy, who was 20 when she was stabbed to death at a precinct house after police who detained the two left them alone in a room together. Bodoshev was sentenced to 20 years in prison, a co-defendant was sentenced to seven years, and more than 20 police officers were punished.
The practice of "bride kidnapping" is illegal in Kyrgyzstan, and lawmakers raised the maximum prison sentence from three to 10 years in 2012, but prosecutions have been rare.