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Eastern European And Central Asian Countries Urged To Change Laws Regarding Sexual Violence

Dekanosidze said legal changes were a vital part of wider measures needed to tackle sexual violence.

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Sexual Violence
A woman protests underage marriages in Lagos, Nigeria, July 20, 2013. Underage marriage is a problem around the world. Activists are calling on former Soviet countries to overhaul laws against sexual violence and child marriage. VOA

Eastern European and Central Asian countries must overhaul Soviet-era laws on sexual violence that let rapists off the hook and encourage child marriage and bride-kidnapping, legal experts said Thursday.

Flawed legislation combined with sexist attitudes across the region mean girls and women are often blamed for provoking sexual violence and may be pressured to reconcile with their attackers or even marry them.

“Many of these laws deny justice to survivors of sexual violence rather than bringing their attackers to justice,” said Tamar Dekanosidze, a human rights lawyer in Georgia. “It’s important that countries fix these laws and end widespread impunity.”

 

Sexual Violence
Protest against sexual violence in India. Image source: www.bbc.co.uk

 

No requirement to investigate

In 10 of the 15 former Soviet Union countries there is no automatic requirement for the authorities to investigate and prosecute sexual violence, according to a study by Equality Now, meaning the burden of pursuing justice lies with the victim.

Police often deter victims from initiating cases, Dekanosidze said. Victims also frequently face pressure from the perpetrator, his family or even their own family to drop claims.

Nine of the countries — Belarus, Moldova, Ukraine, Lithuania, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Russia — allow reconciliation for sexual violence crimes, according to the study published Thursday.

In some cases a perpetrator may persuade a victim to reconcile by paying her money or promising to marry her to avoid social stigma, said Dekanosidze, the report’s co-author.

 

Sexual Violence
A woman covers her mouth with a tape that reads “My sexuality is not your conjugal right” during a demonstration to support International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women in Santiago, Chile, Nov. 25, 2016. VOA

 

Modernize rape laws

Equality Now, which will be writing to ministers across the region, also urged countries to amend laws that define rape as sex with violence or the threat of violence.

The report comes a week after Ukraine became the first country in the region to change its law to define rape as sex without consent, following in the footsteps of countries like Sweden and Iceland.

There is no reliable data on the prevalence of sexual violence in the region, but U.N. data suggests a third of women worldwide have suffered sexual or physical violence.

The report also said sexual violence usually went unpunished in bride kidnappings and child marriages, which still happen in some Eurasian countries.

Sexual Violence
FILE – Indian youth hold candles during a protest against sexual violence in New Delhi. VOA

Marriage after rape

Child marriages are illegal in all 15 countries, but may be encouraged if a girl is raped to prevent public shame.

Rape is not investigated in such situations, meaning the forced marriage effectively exonerates the rape, the study said.

Dekanosidze cited the case of a 15-year-old girl in Georgia who was raped by two men. When the teenager reported the attacks, her family forced her to marry one of her rapists.

Also Read: People Hope to Get Transparency in System With #MeToo Movement

In bride kidnappings, rape is often used as a tool to force the girl into marriage.

Dekanosidze said legal changes were a vital part of wider measures needed to tackle sexual violence.

“Laws can change public attitudes,” she said. “Amending these laws would send a strong message that sexual violence won’t be tolerated.” (VOA)

Next Story

Launch of Internshala Career Scholarship for Girls – 2020 (ICSG)

Any Indian girl between the age group of 17 to 23 years is eligible to apply for the scholarship by 15th January 2020

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Internshala
Through ICSG, Internshala has been able to help girls who after fighting against the odds and overcoming hardships, are still pursuing their careers relentlessly.

Internshala, the internship and training platform, has announced its annual scholarship, Internshala Career Scholarship for Girls (ICSG-2020). ICSG is an annual award of INR 25,000/- which is meant to help advance one girl’s career in her chosen field be it academics, sports, arts, or any other field. The scholarship will be awarded as an allowance for pursuing an internship or undertaking a project in the chosen field, payment towards a specialized training program, special equipment, etc.

Any Indian girl between the age group of 17 to 23 years is eligible to apply for the scholarship by 15th January 2020. To apply, the girls need to fill this form and state their career objective. The applications will be shortlisted based on four elements including the fight against odds, achievement, purpose, and need.

Internshala
Internshala, the internship and training platform, has announced its annual scholarship, Internshala Career Scholarship for Girls (ICSG-2020). Pixabay

The inspiration for this scholarship lies in the sad coincidence that that Nirbhaya’s struggle for life ended on the same day that Internshala celebrated its 2nd anniversary (29th December 2012). Through ICSG, Internshala has been able to help girls who after fighting against the odds and overcoming hardships, are still pursuing their careers relentlessly.

ALSO READ: Samsung Galaxy Fold 2 may Have Ultra-Thin Glass Display

The winner of ICSG-2019 was Gazala Praveen from Sikta, West Champaran in Bihar. Gazala belongs to a family that still has the mindset of not educating girls and marrying them off early. Despite social and economical obstacles, she never gave up on her education.

For more details, visit: http://bit.ly/ICSG-2020