Around 150,000 citizens in Kazakhstan have signed a petition calling on the authorities to define specific crimes to prevent domestic violence, as the country is rocked by a wave of emotion after former Economy Minister Kuandyk Bishimbayev killed his wife, Saltanat Nukenova, aged 9, on 31 November. The petition is in support of an initiative in parliament to criminalise repeated "beatings" and "minor bodily harm", offences decriminalised in 2017 and normally charged to domestic violence offenders.
Saltanat's death has created a media storm, especially due to the fact that her husband is a well-known figure.
But, HRW points out, there are many stories of women who are abused and even killed at the hands of abusive partners and this "shows the systematic nature of domestic violence in Kazakhstan, and how the country's laws, as well as the police and judiciary, fail to adequately protect women from violence in the family."
In a video released on 17 November, several athletes, artists, business figures, bloggers and lawyers called for tougher measures to combat violence against women, including what they called the "criminalisation of domestic violence". A member of parliament, Zhuldyz Suleimenova, from the ruling Amanat party, proposed that specific crimes should be set up for all forms of violence against women and children and that a separate authority should be set up to combat domestic violence.
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