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A new milestone in the fight against domestic violence in Kazakhstan

Protection from domestic violence is one of the most important tasks of a socially-oriented state. Such a phenomenon not only violates human rights but also impedes the development of the family and destroys social values, writes Artur Lastayev, Commissioner for Human Rights in the Republic of Kazakhstan.

Unfortunately, violence in its various forms continues to occur despite the measures taken in all countries.

The relevance and widespread of the problem are evidenced by the complaints received by the Ombudsman for Human Rights in Kazakhstan.

In November 2023, the Office of the Ombudsman held an international scientific-practical conference on combating domestic violence to discuss the causes of this phenomenon and to find ways of preventing it.


As a result of the event, a package of legislative amendments was drafted and sent to Parliament. In particular, it was proposed to criminalise the infliction of minor harm to health and battering and to create a database of complaints about domestic violence in all authorised bodies.

Some amendments were included in the law on women’s rights and children’s safety signed by the Head of State on 15 April this year.

I also prepared and presented to the public the special report “About Combating Family and Domestic Violence”¹.

This report is an additional tool to analyse, identify and assess the extent and nature of domestic violence offences, the effectiveness of measures and victim protection mechanisms.²

The report provides statistics on offences, of which 5,958 were committed in the domestic violence sphere between 2018 and 2023. At the same time, homicides on this ground account for 23 per cent of the total number of homicides in the country.

And despite the general downward trend of such offences over the last 5 years, their number in the domestic sphere remains approximately at the same level.

In our opinion, it is a circumstance that indicates insufficient effectiveness of work on their prevention in the family and domestic sphere.

After the criminalisation of domestic violence, the number of murders decreased 2-3 times in 3 years, in the 2015-2017 period.

At the same time, the criminalisation of 2015 was seriously criticised by society, as the prosecution of domestic violence was carried out privately. It means that the victim independently collects evidence of guilt of the debauchee, files a complaint, makes a private prosecution in court, etc.

Actually, after this criticism, as I understand, it was decided to «return» domestic violence to the Code on Administrative Offences.

But even under these circumstances, statistics clearly show a serious reduction in the mortality rate in family and domestic conflicts.

The above-mentioned law adopted on 15 April this year provides increased criminal liability and criminalisation of administrative offences in the family and domestic sphere.

Another interesting point is that none of the statistics pays attention to the number of male victims of domestic violence.

According to information from the Administrative Police Committee of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, about 40-45 per cent of men are victims of violence.³ It is also impossible to establish the reasons why men became victims – whether this was the result of violence on the part of women or, on the contrary, a consequence of self-defence on the part of the latter.

In any case, further improvement of the mechanism for combating domestic violence requires strengthening inter-agency cooperation and even considering the creation of a separate State body for family issues.

Given that the special report made a number of recommendations to government agencies to address the problems, we are expecting their conclusions in the near future.

I believe it is important for us to continue our work to eliminate all forms of discrimination, to protect the inviolability of honour and personal dignity, to protect motherhood and fatherhood, to educate and inculcate respect for family values, and to establish adequate accountability for violations of these rights and freedoms.

The new factors contributing to domestic violence require constant monitoring, joint efforts, coordination and effective strategies. A comprehensive approach should aim to create a society free of violence, where everyone can feel safe.



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