Women in Kyrgyzstan
|Gender Inequality Index|
|Maternal mortality (per 100,000)||71 (2010)|
|Women in parliament||23.3% (2012)|
|Females over 25 with secondary education||81.0% (2010)|
|Women in labour force||55.5% (2011)|
|Global Gender Gap Index|
|Rank||63rd out of 136|
|Women in society|
Women in Kyrgyzstan traditionally had assigned roles, although only the religious elite sequestered women as was done in other Muslim societies. Because of the demands of the nomadic economy, women worked as virtual equals with men, having responsibility for chores such as milking as well as child-rearing and the preparation and storage of food. In the ordinary family, women enjoyed approximately equal status with their husbands, within their traditional roles. Kyrgyz oral literature includes the story of Janyl-myrza, a young woman who led her tribe to liberation from the enemy when no man in the tribe could do so. In the nineteenth century, the wife of Khan Almyn-bek led a group of Kyrgyz tribes at the time of the Russian conquest of Quqon.
In modern times, especially in the first years of independence, women have played more prominent roles in Kyrgyzstan than elsewhere in Central Asia. As a result of the December 16, 2007 parliamentary elections, 23 women representing three political parties have positions in parliament. As of 2007, women held several high‑level government posts, including minister of finance, minister of education and science, minister of labor and social development, chief justice of the Constitutional Court, the chair of the State Committee on Migration and Employment Issues, and chair of the CEC. As of 2007, no women occupied the positions of governor or head of local government. In August 2007, President Kurmanbek Bakiyev signed into effect an action plan on achieving gender balance for 2007–2010. Between 2007 and 2010, women members of parliament introduced 148 out of the 554 bills that were considered on the floor, covering issues from breastfeeding protection in health bill to the adoption of a law guaranteeing equal rights and opportunities for women and men. In March 2010, opposition politician Roza Otunbaeva rose to power as caretaker president following a revolution against Bakiyev's government, becoming Kyrgyzstan's first female president.
Violence against women
The law specifically prohibits domestic violence and spousal abuse; however, violence against women remains a problem. Some estimates indicate domestic violence constitutes between 40 and 60 percent of all crimes committed against women. Many crimes against women are not reported due to psychological pressure, cultural traditions, and apathy of law enforcement officials. Penalties range from fines to 15 years' imprisonment (if abuse resulted in death). There were 300 reported crimes committed against women in 2007; the majority of those cases were sent to court. Several local NGOs provide services for victims of domestic violence, including legal, medical, and psychological assistance, a crisis hot line, shelters, and prevention programs. Organizations involved with battered women have also lobbied for new laws on domestic violence.
Rape, including spousal rape, is illegal. The official number of rape cases is increasing, although it is unclear whether this is due primarily to increased reporting of attacks. Interior Ministry statistics indicated that during 2007 there were 259 registered cases of rape, 235 of which resulted in convictions. NGOs have estimated that the actual number of cases could be up to 10 times the reported figure. Bribery is used commonly to curtail investigations regarding rape.
Although prohibited by law, rural inhabitants continued the traditional practice of kidnapping women and girls for forced marriage. During the year there were 35 reported cases of forced marriage, but the actual figure may have been much higher. In 23 of these cases, the investigations resulted in convictions of 33 individuals. Cultural traditions discouraged victims from going to the authorities. IOM financed and trained NGOs to maintain antitrafficking hot lines, using toll-free numbers provided by the government, to help potential and actual trafficking victims. The IOM established hot lines, staffed by lawyers and social workers, in each province during June and July 2006. The State Committee for Migration and Employment (SCME) provided free-of-charge office space for the IOM-sponsored hot line staff. The IOM, together with the SCME, continued a countrywide antitrafficking information campaign, including awareness advertisements on television, radio, and billboards.
On March 26, parliament voted against a measure to decriminalize polygamy. Although no official statistics were available, Minister of Justice Marat Kaiypov stated that the ministry prosecutes two to three polygamy cases each year.
Prostitution is not a crime, although the operation of brothels, pimping, and recruiting persons into prostitution is illegal, with penalties of up to five years in prison. With no legal measures in place to regulate the industry, it was an ongoing problem. The NGO Tais-Plus continued to defend the rights of people in prostitution.
Sexual harassment is prohibited by law; however, according to an expert at the local NGO Shans, it was rarely reported or prosecuted. Penalties range from fines to imprisonment.
Women enjoy the same rights as men, including under family law, property law, and in the judicial system, although discrimination against women persisted in practice. The National Council on the Issues of Family, Women and Gender Development, under the president, is responsible for women's issues. Average wages for women were substantially less than for men. Women made up the majority of pensioners, a group that was particularly vulnerable to deteriorating economic conditions. After the demise of the Soviet Union, traditional attitudes toward women reemerged in the countryside, where women were relegated to the roles of wife and mother and educational opportunities were curtailed. Data from NGOs working on women's issues indicated that women were less healthy, more abused, less able to work outside the home, and less able to dispose of their earnings independently than men.
- "The Global Gender Gap Report 2013" (PDF). World Economic Forum. pp. 12–13.
- Olcott, Martha Brill. "The Role of Women". Kyrgyzstan country study (Glenn E. Curtis, editor). Library of Congress Federal Research Division (March 1996). This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
- Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Kyrgyz Republic (2007). United States Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (March 18, 2008). This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
- "Widening women's political representation in Kyrgyzstan", United Nations Development Programme, August 11, 2010.
- "Otunbaeva Inaugurated as Kyrgyz President", Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, March 7, 2010.
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