Allegations that a member of Kyrgyzstan's KGB-successor agency organized the brutal rape of his wife have outraged women’s rights activists in Bishkek. But what rights defenders call an ordinary crime is having an extraordinary effect because of the victim’s response: she pressed charges.
Nazgul Akmatbek kyzy has pursued her cause, despite, she says, considerable pressure from authorities to drop the case. Most women in Kyrgyzstan are afraid or ashamed to speak about sexual crimes. In a country with patriarchal norms and a dysfunctional justice system, few men are charged, especially husbands, on sexual assault charges, even though government statistics indicate 92 percent of rapes are committed by sexual partners or former partners. Moreover, legal experts say police sometimes try to classify rape within the family as an administrative offense, which carries the same fine as burning garbage in the street – about $20.
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David Trilling is EurasiaNet's Central Asia editor.