The US Could Learn a Lot from This Progressive, New Domestic Violence Law

In 2015, Human Rights Watch released a report entitled, “‘Call Me When He Tries to Kill You:’ State Response to Domestic Violence in Kyrgyzstan.”

Without even glancing at the nearly 100-page report, you could guess that the “response” was almost nonexistent. Despite nearly one-third of women and girls ages 15-49 experiencing domestic violence and a 2003 law that was supposed to guarantee survivors’ rights, domestic violence largely went ignored and unpunished.

A woman in Kyrgyzstan remembered calling the police to report that her partner had severely beaten her. The officer asked if he’d tried to kill her, and she said no.

“You call me when he tried to kill you,” the officer responded, “because we have more important things to do.”

HRW reported that police often refused to even register complaints of domestic violence, let alone report them. Protection orders commonly went unenforced and domestic violence was considered a minor offense.

“At the heart of the problem is a combination of social indifference, failure to enforce laws and a lack of resources for victims of physical, sexual or emotional abuse,” The Guardian reported in 2015 about the situation in Kyrgyzstan, though the same analysis could be applied to countless nations.

Kyrgyzstan’s dismissal of domestic violence and the similar reaction of many other countries toward the issue is exactly why we should pay attention to the progress now.

On April 27, President Almazbek Atambayev signed a new law called the “Law on Prevention and Protection Against Family Violence,” which aims to fill in the gaps left by the 2003 legislation. One interesting aspect of the new law is that now, anyone can report a domestic violence situation whereas before only victims could report to the police. Previously, few victims reported DV and many withdrew their complaints.

The law protects against physical, emotional and “economic” violence, essentially the restriction and control of financial resources or property as a form of abuse. It’s a critical aspect of preventing intimate partner violence since finances can be used to keep victims feeling helpless and in dangerous situations.

Additionally, the law seeks to improve the process of protective orders by issuing them to all survivors on a mandatory basis. Prior to the new law, survivors struggled to maneuver the complicated procedures and were usually unable to get orders of protection.

Domestic violence offenders are no longer eligible to own or purchase weapons and permits held by people who are already convicted offenders will be revoked.

Victims of domestic violence, regardless of whether or not they’ve been able to secure a conviction, have certain key rights under new laws, including access to a safe shelter and medical and mental health services.

Of course, laws are only useful when they’re enforced. That’s why the government will name a “coordinating body” to oversee the enforcement of the law and the prevention of domestic violence.

HRW points out that, while the law is a significant improvement, there are still areas of concern. For example, improving access to and enforcement of protection orders is a great step forward, but the law doesn’t specify that the victim’s consent is required.

Photo Credit: Ayo Ogunseinde

72 comments

Telica R
Telica R16 days ago

Thanks for sharing

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Marie W
Marie Wabout a month ago

Thanks for sharing.

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Philippa P
Philippa Powers5 months ago

Thanks.

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Jerome S
Jerome S5 months ago

thanks

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Carl R
Carl R6 months ago

Thanks!!!

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william Miller
william Miller6 months ago

thanks

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Carl R
Carl R6 months ago

thanks!!!

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Rosslyn O
Rosslyn O6 months ago

Some excellent comments made on this topic. Thank you for this article.

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David C
David C6 months ago

thanks

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pam w
pam w6 months ago

"More important things to do?" I wish he worked for me....he'd be out of a job SO FAST----

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