Gulnara Karakulova.


We are stronger together!


Domestic violence and sexual slavery are the most widespread infringements of the women’s rights in the modern world. Unfortunately, our country is not an exception! According to statistics, every ninth woman in Kazakhstan is exposed to violence in this or that form. I remember when we just started our project six years ago, we faced misunderstanding of this problem, not only from men but also women. Being the participants of our first round table session they were not ready to discuss this theme. “The weak half of the mankind” brought up throughout the centuries with the stereotypes like “the wife should be afraid of her husband”, “you will love him as soon as you get used to him” “when the lovers quarrel they renew their love”, «beats means loves» and furthermore the mentality of eastern women who are not used “to take trash out of a house”, all these constrained the desire of women to speak openly and honestly about themselves, which means there was no possibility to estimate the depth of the problem society was facing. At that time there were brave people who dared to break the dam of silence around domestic violence. But within each new meeting organized by NGO the number of these people is increasing. Representatives of legislative bodies who earlier considered domestic violence as a family matter and believed that it has to be settled by itself are now on the side of the NGOs who are dealing with violence and human traffic.

Nevertheless hotline telephone calls from people who were subject to violence as well as the calls concerning unemployment and human traffic told us a different story. By the way there is a problem which needs to be solved by the whole world. Telephone hotlines are very effective forms of communication among people. They help our Female Resource Center to hold a hand on pulse of the acute problems of modern society and to assist people.

Those who call the hotlines get not only the consultations of a lawyer or a psychologist but they can find a shelter in the center which opened quite recently. Last year this center became a shelter for 23 victims of sexual slavery.  For the first half of this year the number is 21 already: 16 from them are women, five are men who have suffered from labor infringements. Among these people there was a young woman who agreed to meet the journalists and to tell her story to be a model to other young girls who are flying like butterflies on fire seeing attractive ads of good job and high salaries abroad. Still, it is chance to acquire a person’s rights and it is a step to start self-protection not to let anybody make you a slave.

The time when it was necessary to prove that violence and a human traffic problem exist in our society has gone. NGOs have made a hole in the wall of silence and the information that has forced governmental and executive institutions to start a dialogue with us and to search the ways of social partnership flooded into this hole.

When we created on April 11, 1998 the centre we developed four directions in our work. In the   sphere of education we focused on legal education of women and creation of Summer Female Camp of Leaders. In sphere of information the focus was on organizing mass actions and campaigns on all female topics. The research direction assumed the analysis of reproductive health situation and a social status of women. And the fourth direction was devoted to organizing law and psychology service as well as a «hot line» creation.

Today I can honestly say that these directions are the basis of our social partnership plans. Our centre is working with Committee on Family and Women Issues in Oblast Akhimiat, with Terrorism Prevention Department, Religious Extremism Department and Illegal Migration Department which struggles against women violence.

Together with police officers we went to the customs post named after Konisbaev to assist in organizing help to Tajikistan citizens whose rights have been violated. For the trial period we have provided them with apartments, food, clothes and treatment in the centre of sexual violence victims who were illegally delivered to Shymkent. We met 2 women who have been taken out of slavery abroad and we sent them home after rehabilitation period.





Violence and human traffic issues were in agenda on joint meetings and seminars organized by trainers from republican NGOs and foreign partners with participation of representatives of governmental and administrative institutions.

The latest example is a seminar with the Swedish consulting company Sprangbradan, a bureau of the United Nations Gender and Development and with the National Committee on Family and Women Issues working at President of Republic of Kazakhstan. The deputy Oblast Akhim S.Burlachenko, representatives of legislative bodies, and mass-media were actively participating. This made the discussion about joint actions very constructive. The knowledge acquired at the seminar gives a good opportunity to conduct work on a more competent level as the leaders of a women's movement now have support and understanding of three branches of the power representatives.

Thus, thanks to social partnership and joint plans for work the problem of violence and a human traffic has come to the new level from just acknowledging the problem and informing the citizens of the problem to taking concrete decisions using complex approaches to it.

Integration of state institutions into NGO network, undoubtedly, puts the work on a qualitatively new level. I am absolutely sure that only mutual efforts can change the attitude to women which the General Secretary of the United Nations Kofi Annan called «the most shameful infringement of human rights».


The handbook on social partnership, Taldykorgan, 2004ă.