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UZBEKISTAN

Third periodic report submitted on 1 July 1993

BASIC COUNTRY INFORMATION
(Sources: The World Factbook 2000 [i] , Lonely Planet [ii] ):

Population,  July 2000 estimate: 24.7 million

Rural population:  62.2 %

Urban population: 37.8 %

Birth Rate, 2000 estimate: 26.18 births/1000 population

Fertility Rate, 2000 estimate: 3.09 children born/woman

Infant Mortality Rate, 2000 estimate: 72.13 deaths/1000 live births

Ethnicities: 80% Uzbeks, 5.5% Russians, 5% Tajik,

                 3% Kazakh.

Languages: Uzbek, Tajik, Farsi

Religion: 88% Sunni Muslim, 10% Christian, 2% Other

GDP, 1999 estimate: US$ 59.3 billion

GDP per capita, 1999 estimate: US$ 2,500

Major industries: cotton, fruit & vegetables, rice, gold

Unemployment Rate, December 1996 estimate: 5% plus 10% underemployed

Literacy, 1996: Male and Female - 99%

Life Expectancy at Birth, 2000 estimate: Male - 60.09 years

                                                             Female - 67.52 years


Recent Political History

The Central Asian Republic of Uzbekistan gained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. In December 1999, Uzbekistan held a parliamentary election, followed by a presidential election in January 2000.  Despite official Uzbek claims of progress towards electoral democracy, a group from the Office of Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODI HR) of the Organization for the Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) concluded the parliamentary election fell far short of OSCE standards and the Office refused to observe the presidential election in protest. [iii]   The legislature is said to function as President Islam Karimov’s rubber stamp. [iv]

The collapse of the Soviet Union created conditions for the revival of national identity and culture of Uzbek people. Particularly, a wave of national self-awareness gave impulse to traditional and religious views on the role of women and gender relations, which had been suppressed before. Different views on societal roles of women have become a battleground between various political forces, including religious fundamentalism, which seek to fill the ideological vacuum left by the collapse of Soviet power. [v]   In September 2000, Uzbekistan signed a military cooperation agreement with Kyrgyzstan aimed at countering the threat of Islamic militants. [vi]

Human Rights and Freedom of Expression

Like its Soviet predecessor, the Constitution of Uzbekistan nominally guarantees a number of civil rights that its citizens are in effect unable to exercise, such as freedom of speech, association and assembly.  Additionally, Uzbekistan has acceded to more than a dozen international human rights agreements, which theoretically take precedence over state law. Despite standard rhetoric by President Karimov and other Uzbek officials about the commitment to human rights and gradual democratization, there has been no liberalization of society nor evidence of serious intentions in that direction.  No political opposition is permitted, and censorship remains as strict as ever: those who dare to distribute opposition publications risk imprisonment. Some experts state that official suppression of religious groups appears to be encouraged by the heads of the religious establishment, the official Muslim Muftiate and the Russian Orthodox Church, which wish to maintain their privileged and influential status.    According to observers, however, the systematic removal of moderate opposition forces could open the way for more militant groups to take their place. [vii]

In mid-1996, aware that Uzbekistan’s poor human rights record was hampering its efforts to expand ties with Western nations, gain greater access to development aid, and increase foreign investment, the Uzbekistani leadership launched a full-fledged public relations campaign to improve its tarnished image.  Steps were taken to cooperate with ousted human rights monitors, and amnesties were granted to prisoners, including political prisoners. (The amnesties were timed to coincide roughly with President Karimov’s visit to the United States in June 1996 and with the fifth anniversary of Uzbekistan’s independence).

Media

Despite calls for a more open press, blatant censorship — both official and self-imposed—persists, and existing legislation concerning media rights is not enforced.  Uzbekistani papers remain devoid of criticism of state policy, printing instead approved reports from the government information agency, information on President Karimov’s activities and other politically acceptable items. There are no private publishing houses, and government approval is required for all publications.  All newspapers are printed from state-owned printing houses. These facilities can refuse to print any newspaper if its editor does not confirm that the committee overseeing media publications has cleared the contents.  Journalists who want to ensure that their work is published practice self-censorship.  The existing independent television stations operate under tight official control, including frequent demands from the government officials to view programs before they air. [viii]   The government has been known to shut down media outlets critical of the government under the pretext that they lack proper licensing. [ix]   The Committee to Protect Journalists reported in 1999 that two journalists of the opposition newspaper Erk  were imprisoned and tortured. [x]

Non-governmental Organizations

In 1999, the government refused to register two major independent human rights organizations.  The Human Rights Society of Uzbekistan (HRSU), a group with close ties to exiled opposition figures, has sought registration  unsuccessfully since 1992.  The independent Human Rights Organization of Uzbekistan (IHROU), headed by the long time human rights activist Mikhail Ardzinob, held its founding convention and filed registration papers in 1997, but the government has not yet formally approved or denied the application.

Women and Culture

Societal attitudes toward women in Uzbekistan are, to a large degree, linked to dominant culture, low legal awareness, and the lack of understanding that the protection of human rights is an integral part of the democratization process. [xi]

According to women’s activists in Uzbekistan, the sources of violence against women are rooted primarily in cultural stereotypes.  The historic attitude in this region of male superiority “over the weak reasoning of women” reinforce men’s despotic treatment of women.  Such attitudes are especially strong with respect to family life.

The pre-Soviet social status and lifestyle of Muslim women in Central Asia was guided by Islamic Shari’a, based on the segregation of sexes and the isolation of women from social life.  Secular behavior is disapproved as being “non-Muslim.”  For Uzbek women in Soviet times, equal rights and employment outside the home existed alongside traditional obedience in the family.  Women’s desire for independence was supported by  the state but suppressed in the family and community for the sake of preservation of national and cultural identity.  As a result of Soviet government policy, the level of women’s representation in administrative bodies and their professional qualifications and education, including in rural areas, increased considerably.  At the same time, however, the deep influence of traditions sanctioned by religion also was preserved.

Under the banner of Islam’s revival, the propaganda of early marriages, polygamy and submissive position of women reappeared in numerous publications, culminating in 1991-1992.  The idea of independence grew in parallel with the revival of Islam, national values and traditions.  Therefore, to a large part of society, the notion of “Uzbek woman” has become identical to “Muslim woman.” The principles of family and of local self-governing community (mahalla [xii] ) have had a tremendous impact on the social status of women in Uzbekistan, their participation in economic and social life, and on how they view themselves.

According to a survey carried out by the Women’s Resource Center in 1995, in mahallas of Tashkent, 70 percent of women with four children still wished to have more in order to have one or more sons, in order to improve their family standing.

These post-independence developments have led to the decline of the social status of Uzbek women since the beginning of the 1990s. However, a return to the affirmative action policy towards women in 1995 has created conditions to strengthen their rights. 

STATUS OF WOMEN IN UZBEKISTAN UNDER SPECIFIC CEDAW ARTICLES:

CONVENTION ARTICLES 1- 3:  DEFINITION OF DISCRIMINATION;

POLICY MEASURES TO BE TAKEN TO ELIMINATE DISCRIMINATION;

and BASIC RIGHTS AND FUNDAMENTAL FREEDOMS

According to the 1992 Constitution of the Republic of Uzbekistan, all citizens of the country have the same legal status, and they enjoy equal rights and freedoms irrespective of sex, race, ethnic origin, language, religion, social background, convictions, personal or social status (Article 18). One of the fundamental constitutional principles is equality of rights for men and women (Article 46).  Although the Uzbek Constitution has no provisions that would discriminate or injure the rights or freedoms of women, it does not explicitly include a clause on non-discrimination against women. [xiii]   Article 2 of the newly adopted Family Law, Article 45 of the Criminal Code, Article 6 of the Labor Law all embody the principle of equality between women and men. [xiv]

By a presidential Decree of 2 March 1995, the government of Uzbekistan established a program of “Measures to Increase the Role of Women in State and Public Construction in the Republic of Uzbekistan” charged with monitoring the implementation of the internationally adopted norms on protection of interests of women, maternity and childhood.  According to Marfua Tokhtakhodjaeva, chair of the Women’s Resource Center, the decree gave impetus to the creation of branches of the Women’s Committee in every region of Uzbekistan. [xv]     Also by the order of the President, in hokimiats (local administrations) at all levels, women are appointed as deputies to the administrative heads (hokims).   

Women’s activists emphasize that despite its purpose of advancing women on many different levels, the program’s impact has been limited by its formal, bureaucratic and inflexible approach and an unclear position on the issue of modernization versus traditionalism, which has been gaining force in the country. [xvi]    For example, a monitoring action under this program was carried out for the first time in 1999.  As a result, provincial hokimiats submitted information which, according to activist Sayora Sharafovna Rashidova, revealed that  the objectives of the program were misunderstood. The regional reports contained simple facts on violations of women’s rights instead of information on efforts to monitor compliance with human rights obligations.  The methodology was subsequently clarified by the Uzbekistan Office of Ombudsman and sent to local governments. [xvii]    The public awareness of these government actions is very low, as little is information available (either publicly or through the education system) about the institutions designed to deal with discrimination against women. [xviii]   Despite the legal provisions allowing individuals to sue for discriminatory practices, no recorded cases have been filed. [xix]   There are no legal courses or special training courses on discrimination for law students, lawyers or judges to raise their awareness.  NGOs are the only ones to have organized workshops and on these issues.. [xx]

Women in Prisons

Although there have been instances of both male and female prisoners being threatened with rape,  police tend to threaten women frequently.  In particular, according to Human Rights Watch (HRW), “police made threats of rape against female detainees in the presence of males relatives to force the men to sign self-incriminating statements.” [xxi]

CONVENTION ARTICLE 5: SEX ROLES AND STEREOTYPING

Stereotypes in the Media

According to Tokhtakhodjaeva, the fundamental problem facing women and the women’s movement in Uzbekistan is the predominant “mentality dominated by patriarchal values attaching a secondary role to women.” [xxii]    In the media, “alongside stereotypical Soviet-style images of women standing by a machine at a plant, or women on a plantation, there is a new image, typical of patriarchal discourse - a blushing bride, a mother sitting by the cradle, an elderly woman surrounded by numerous relatives, and a woman running her home.” [xxiii] :

Written and oral declarations addressed to women display the perception of a woman as a bearer of some decorative function: the mode of all beautiful words addressed to her include some share of indulgence like the praise of the patron addressed to his subordinate.  It is the cult of mother ruling by the word of mouth that predetermines motherhood as major function of a woman and, hence, determined perception of the unmarried woman as an inferior creature, and of childless woman as a monster. [xxiv]

Major media outlets, such as the daily “Uzbekiston Adabiyet va Sanati,” “Hurriyat,” “Oila va Jamiyat,” “Turkiston,” “Vatan,” “Uzbekiston Ovozi,” “Khalk Suzi,” and others publish materials calling for women to return to “the bosom of the family and to refuse the prospect of a public career.” [xxv]   According to Tokhtakhodjaeva, “work with small groups shows that domination of family values and patriarchal relations does not only influence upon public consciousness but upon women themselves.  They accept the subordinated position of women as a norm, where we see the case of self-underestimation both regarding evaluation of facts of violence against women when part of the guilt is laid on the women herself.”  As a result of the prevailing values and norms and the  ideal of a passive, submissive, home object creates generations of women who are not ready and eager, or even aware of participation in public life.  Marriage and family becomes the main life goal.

Different Upbringing for Boys and Girls and Early Education

According to activists, the different treatment of women starts in the family where boys and girls are socialized in different ways.  As boys are typically allowed do many things and activities that girls cannot do, girls are brought up to see themselves as less than the boys. [xxvi]

CONVENTION ARTICLE 6: PROSTITUTION AND TRAFFICKING

The Criminal Code does not address prostitution directly. Section V, Article 131 (Crimes Against the Family, Youth and Morality) provides for fines of 25 to 50 percent of the minimum monthly salary, correctional labor for up to three years, or imprisonment for up to three years with the confiscation of property for the maintenance of brothels and procurement. [xxvii]   Pimping is punishable under Article 131 of the Criminal Code.  However, there is no public discussion of the problem of prostitution, venereal diseases or AIDS, as neither the government, media, or NGOs have addressed the issue.  Nevertheless, according to the IHFHR report, levels of prostitution and pimping are on the rise in Uzbekistan with the increase in poverty.  This sometimes happens  with the cooperation of law enforcement. [xxviii]   Prostitution rings typically operate from hotel complexes and trading and leisure complexes.  According to International Helsinki Federation of Human Rights (IHFHR), of special concern is a marked increase in underage prostitution in the last few years.  Prostitutes offer sexual services for payments ranging from 2,000 to 10,000 (US$3 to 15). [xxix]

Several international NGOs report that  hundreds of girls and young women are trafficked for work in the sex industry abroad.  For example, in one case, girls as young as 13 and 14 years old were provided with false passports and sent to various countries, including the United Arab Emirates.  HRW reports that the “traffickers typically paid large bribes to Uzbek law enforcement officials who agreed to look the other way.” [xxx]   This practice often occurs as an extension of the “shuttle” trade.  The women are sent as tourists with promises of employment as nannies, tutors or baby-sitters, but they often end up working in the sex industry. [xxxi]

CONVENTION ARTICLE 7: POLITICAL AND PUBLIC LIFE

According to women’s activists in Uzbekistan, an increase of women’s participation in the State decision-making structures is critical to their ability to participate in policy making, particularly with respect to issues such as women’s health. [xxxii]     Women also have practically no role in decision and policy-making in important new areas concerning the economy, such as the issue of privatization.  The abolition of the Soviet era quota system for women brought a sharp decline in their representation in national politics.  In the 1980s, there were 178 female members among the deputies of the Supreme Soviet of Uzbek SSR (34.9 percent).  In  the Uzbek Parliament (Oliy Majlis) in 1994, there were only 15 women (6 percent) out of a total of 240 seats. [xxxiii]    Currently, only 17 of the 250 members of the Parliament, elected in November 1999, are women.  Women head two committees in the Parliament.  The Deputy Prime Minister is a woman, and she is also the head of the Committee of Women of Uzbekistan. [xxxiv]    The only example of a woman being appointed to a government position in an effort to increase their representation was the appointment of Vice-Premier Gulyamova by presidential decree. [xxxv]    The share of women in highest administrative and management positions, such as deputy ministers and deputy directors of enterprises,  now stands at 17.5 percent.  There are 13 women at the ministerial level. [xxxvi]    A similar trend has emerged at the local level although women’s involvement is higher in local and grassroots politics.

A March 1995 decree issued by President Karimov on measures to increase the women’s role in state and society, promised women’s participation in decision-making at all levels.  According to the decree, the chairpersons of the women’s committees are at the same time appointed as deputy of hokims responsible for the social sector in administrative bodies at regional, district and city levels. The president decreed that the second in command of every mahalla committee was to be woman, who would simultaneously act as the ex-officio head of the mahalla’s Women’s Committee.  This Decree returns to the quota system and develops affirmative action policy towards women.  However, despite government policies aimed at increasing women’s political participation, much remains to be done to stimulate women’s representation in the State structures and create conditions conducive to such participation.. [xxxvii]     In particular, women’s activists have pointed out that the media could be used to promote modernization and non-traditional roles for women.  So far, conservative forces have used the mass media to promote  traditional attitudes. [xxxviii]

Another problem highlighted by women’s activists relates to the prevailing cultural emphasis on the role of women as mothers and wives, is a low interest of women in political and public activities.  According to Uzbekistani NGO reports, only young and unmarried women display any interest or activity. [xxxix]

CONVENTION ARTICLE 10: EDUCATION

Currently, Uzbekistan has a system of free and fee-paying educational institutions. Primary education is compulsory—all children must attend the first eight years of school.  Nevertheless, in families with many children, especially in villages, eight years is usually the maximum.  Children’s education is accompanied by work in the field or at home; girls are involved particularly in household tasks. According to a report by the IHFHR, the majority of girls (about 1.7 million) have no access to secondary or higher education or have to drop out of the educational system because of poverty or early marriage.   Especially in rural areas it is common for girls to marry as early as 16. [xl]   Although the number of children attending school decreased in 1998 compared with 1997, there has been no impact in higher education and specialized secondary education upon women. Most female students are concentrated in fields such as medical school and teaching careers.

According to Sayora Sharafovna Rashidova, conditions have not been created to enable and encourage women to continue education at higher levels.  Currently, as a result of negative family attitudes and the burden of family responsibilities, women  are often forced to discontinue their education once they start a family, which usually [xli] happens in their early 20s. [xlii]   Sharafovna recommended some measures that would enable young wives and others to continue education, such as the development of special educational schedules for breast-feeding mothers, the establishment of free day-care centers attached to higher educational institutions, the allocation of educational loans, and the creation of televised courses. [xliii]    Uzbekistan has been one of the few countries where there is no connection between the level of education and birth rate, and women still show high educational achievement, but this trend may be changing.. [xliv]

Islamic Schools for Girls

With the religious revival in Uzbekistan  following independence from the SU, religious schools for girls opened.  Educational programs in these schools have emphasized the study of religion and the promotion of traditional gender roles.  According to IHFHR,  the government began an effort to crack down on these institutions and on overt expressions of religious beliefs in February 1999. [xlv]    It is unknown how many religious schools for girls still exist in Uzbekistan and what the status of these schools is in the country’s educational system.

CONVENTION ARTICLE 11: EMPLOYMENT

Discrimination in Employment

Tokhtakhodjaeva reports that women who complete higher education do not enjoy equal access with men to administrative and professional positions carrying responsibility.  Because statistics in Uzbekistan are inadequate, she uses statistical data for neighboring Kazakhstan, where she claims that the situation is very similar, to show that one out of five men with higher education holds an administrative position compared with one out of seventeen women.  According to her, the situation in Uzbekistan may be worse. [xlvi]    Moreover, women are discriminated against based on age and family status.  For instance, preference is given to younger women with less experience and fewer qualifications, and to women without children over women with small children.  Pregnant women are rarely hired at all. [xlvii]   Male workers also tend to be promoted faster and their overall salaries and status are higher than those of women who have the same education and experience.  Men and women who occupy equal positions do receive equal pay. [xlviii]

There are no reliable statistical data on employment and unemployment. Women comprised 43 percent of the total number of employed in 1986 and this trend continued until independence. [xlix] Tadjihon Djalalovna Aidikramova reports that in 1997, 71.1 percent of women compared to 77.7 percent of men were employed. [l]    According to IHFHR, in recent years the number of women working outside the home, especially in the informal sectors, has increased as many elderly women have become involved in “chelnok” work (delivery of goods from another country for resale in Uzbekistan).  In fact, both rural and urban women are more likely to work in the informal sector. [li]   In general, a woman meets with resistance to her work outside the home and a  “negative attitude of husbands and other relatives to her work.” [lii]   On the other hand, the State has not created conditions for women to be able to combine their family duties and active labor activity, such as the establishment of network of child-care institutions, which creates double burdens for women who have to juggle outside employment with household chores. [liii]

“Shuttle Business”

Much public criticism has been directed at women engaged in so-called “shuttle business,” which means selling items such as clothes and household items out of a sack.  These women are often criticized in the media for not adhering to traditional roles, but Tokhtakhodjaeva points out that their involvement in this kind of business activity it is dictated by women’s struggle to provide for their families in difficult times.  Moreover, the kind of work is risky and physically and psychologically demanding as these businesses exists in a vacuum outside the economic reach of the government.  The women often have higher education, and their business activity gives them real-life experience in dealing with banks and other State institutions. [liv]

Distribution of Women in the Labor Force

According to 1988 data (newer data were unavailable at the time of writing), the careers with the highest proportion of women were health care and social work (72.7 percent).  In education, 60.5 percent of employees were women.  In cultural fields, 57.1 percent were women and in trade and catering, 55.8 percent were women. Despite women’s dominance of the health care and teaching professions, they had a slim chance of becoming a university rector or a director of a health care institution. In the same year, women comprised 36 percent of research staff and 10.7 percent of all academics. [lv]    This trend has continued, and there is evidence that women’s official employment has decreased during the transition to the market economy. [lvi]

Women Employed in the Media

Even though women comprise 50 percent of media employees, they typically occupy low-level positions and work on issues related to women’s traditional social roles:  a majority of female journalists report on issues related to motherhood and family. [lvii]   Male journalists are given assignments carrying more weight, such as participation in high level conferences; they typically report on political issues. [lviii]

Protective Legislation

The Labor Code places limits on certain types of employment for women.  Article 225 prohibits women’s employment in unfavorable conditions, and Article 228 prohibits the employment of pregnant women or mothers of children under 14 years for night shifts, overtime and weekends and from taking business trips without their husband’s consent. [lix]   These restrictions are inconsistent with CEDAW, as they create protective measures which may prevent women from obtaining certain types of employment and limiting their opportunities in the labor market.

CONVENTION ARTICLE 12: HEALTH CARE AND FAMILY PLANNING

Family Planning and Reproductive Rights

The difficulties of the transition period negatively affected the system of health protection. In addition, programs dealing with family planning and reproductive health are sometimes difficult to implement due to the emphasis on traditional gender roles and “moral purity” for women. NGOs that run family planning programs sometimes meet with resistance and refusal by target groups to discuss certain topics as “forbidden for maidens.” Nevertheless, the Ministry of Health trains physicians to provide family planning services, and an International Research & Exchanges Board (IREX) report states that these efforts are starting to pay off: the proportion of the population using contraceptives has risen from 3 to 14 percent in the past few years. [lx]  

On the other hand, many women decide to give birth, even if they are aware of potential damage to their health, for fear of being considered childless or infertile.  The perceived need to bear a male heir also drives women to bear “as many as God gives” without considering their own health, desires, or the family’s economic situation. [lxi]    According to an IREX report, as many as 60 percent of women of childbearing age have serious health problems that can affect their well-being during pregnancy. [lxii]    It is estimated that 99 percent of pregnant women, 92 percent of non-pregnant women and 87 percent of teenage girls are anemic. [lxiii]   Thus, despite the government’s efforts to improve maternal and child health, morbidity and mortality rates remain high and more needs to be done to reverse this trend. In particular, information about and access to family planning and prenatal care must be made readily available. [lxiv]

Forced Sterilization

Although compelling a person to undergo sterilization is illegal, IHFHR reports that women are sometimes sterilized  without consent (particularly in rural areas) following the birth of their fourth or fifth child.  Doctors have been known to admit privately that they merely follow indirect instructions of the authorities who are making an effort to reduce the birth rate. [lxv]

Abortion

Abortion is legal without restrictions.  Although it is supposed to be provided free of charge, women are pressured to pay for abortion in the amount of 3,000 sums (US$ 450).  If the doctor does not receive a payment, the abortion may be performed without anesthetic or precautions that ensure the woman’s safety and health. [lxvi]

CONVENTION ARTICLE 14: RURAL WOMEN

More than 60 percent of the population lives in rural areas, where attitudes toward women are most traditional and women’s economic and social status are the lowest.  Young girls are expected and pressured to marry early, so they frequently are denied access to education. 

The economic crisis has had its most severe impact in rural areas, where the quality of health care is very poor, and hospitals and clinics lack equipment and medication. [lxvii]     The situation is especially critical given the environmental degradation in rural areas: the Soviet-era use of pesticides and toxic defoliants in Uzbekistan’s cotton plantations harmed the environment and resulted in severe water shortages as irrigation projects diverted massive amounts of water to the field.  Especially the Aral Sea region was affected, where about 30 percent of water is unsanitary. [lxviii]  

Women in villages do not have access to services such as childcare. This prevents women with many children from taking up paid work outside the home.  While education services only cover the needs of about 35 percent of all children nationally, some rural zones are affected more deeply.  For instance, in the Kashkadarya region, only 18 percent of children are enrolled. [lxix]

Additionally, rural women are overburdened as they are responsible for much of the hard work in the village, including fetching scarce water and making kizyak, a fuel of dried cow dung mixed with straw and wheat chaff. [lxx]  

CONVENTION ARTICLE 16:  MARRIAGE AND FAMILY LAW

Despite a legal prohibition of early marriages and polygamy, these practices are becoming more common.   Currently, more than 45 percent of women, but only 8 percent of men marry before the age of 20. [lxxi]   According to Uzbek tradition, many marriages are arranged by parents who execute an agreement between the families.  In most of these cases, the spouses meet for the first time at the wedding ceremony.  Prospective husbands have a chance to express their wishes concerning an arranged marriage, but prospective wives do not have the same right.  Parental decisions are final, as those who marry are mostly very young (girls 17-18; boys 19-20). [lxxii]

Polygamy

The law is vague on the issue of polygamy, and there is no judicial definition of polygamy.  Chapter V, Article 126  of the Criminal Code  provides for a fine of 50-150 times the minimum monthly wage or correctional  labor of up to three years or imprisonment of up to three years as punishment for cohabitation of a man with two or more women as a common household. [lxxiii]   De facto, polygamy continues and remains socially acceptable; there are no known cases which have resulted in punishment.  According to Minnesota Advocates for Human Rights (MAHR), economic factors and men’s ability to support more than one spouse result  in polygamous unions being more common among men with high salaries, such as businessmen and government officials.  MAHR reports that as many as 80 percent of policemen have two wives. [lxxiv]

GENERAL RECOMMENDATION NO. 19: VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN

Domestic Violence

There is practically no public discussion, in the media or otherwise, of violence against  women, including domestic abuse of women by parents, husbands, and in-laws. [lxxv]    When the topic is raised in the mass media, it is treated as “misconduct” of individual men.   In many cases, women are blamed for abuse against them. [lxxvi]    Typically, abuse is attributed to women’s failure to act in accordance with their perceived roles in the family.   Human Rights Watch (HRW) reports that authorities create obstacles for women who try to obtain justice for domestic abuse.  Research conducted by HRW in 2000 revealed that police discourage women who were abused by their husbands or relatives from filing reports.  Furthermore, authorities fail to investigate and punish abusers when such reports are made.  There have been instances of local authorities pressuring women to remain in abusive homes and attempts to dissuade women from pursuing divorce. [lxxvii]   MAHR reports that there is also a tendency to classify injuries resulting from domestic violence as “light,” which carry lesser penalties. [lxxviii]

Abuse of Young Brides

Uzbek activists underline the influence of family — and, especially, of the in-laws and husband  — on the woman following marriage. A bride typically moves in with her husband’s family.   Neft and Levine report that young brides become handmaidens to their in-laws and their husbands.  In some cases, the maltreatment leads married women to commit suicide. They cite a 1990 study in Uzbekistan, which showed that as many as 300 women attempted suicide as a result of abuse and harassment from their husbands’ families. [lxxix]    Some reports indicate that the practice is on the rise. [lxxx]   Newer studies indicate that approximately 500 women per year kill themselves, mostly because of family problems and as a response to the inability to find relief from the abusive situations. [lxxxi] It is unknown whether authorities have launched any programs or campaigns to combat domestic violence and to help create new institutional norms which would allow women to seek a more effective legal redress.

 

ACTIONS BY OTHER UN HUMAN RIGHTS MECHANISMS PERTAINING TO WOMEN’S HUMAN RIGHTS:

Conclusions and recommendations of the Committee against Torture:  Uzbekistan. 19 November 1999.. CAT/C/23/7.

No recommendations concerning women were issued by this Committee.

 

[i] CIA, The World Factbook 2000: Uzbekistan, available at <www.odci.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/uz.html>, accessed 26 November 2000.

[ii] Lonely Planet, Destination Uzbekistan, available at <www.lonelyplanet.org>, accessed 15 October 2000.

[iii] Committee to Protect Journalists, Central Europe and the Republics of the Former Soviet Union.  Country Report 1999: Uzbekistan, available at <www.cpj.org>, accessed 20 November 2000.

[iv] Ibid.

[v] Marfua Tokhtakhodjaeva, “Traditional Stereotypes and Women’s Problems in Post-Soviet Uzbekistan: A Survey of the Mass Media,” Women Living Under Muslim Laws Dossier 22 (November 1999): 35.

[vi] World Briefing. Asia: Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan: Defense Pact.  New York Times. 28 September 2000, A10.

[vii] Committee to Protect Journalists.

[viii]   Ibid.

[ix]   Ibid.

[x] Ibid.

[xi] Marfua Tokhtakhodjaeva, “Public Opinion Formation in Gender Equality Area,” In: Women’s Committee of Uzbekistan; The Open Society Institute - Assistance Foundation - Uzbekistan; USAID/Global Training for Development (GTD) Project; USAID/Winrock International, Gender Equality in Uzbekistan: Status and Development Perspectives, Conference Materials (7-8 September 2000), Tashkent, Uzbekistan.

[xii] The mahalla is the basic unit of a system of local self-government that is indigenous to the region.  In addition to its role as the main regulator of social behavior, the mahalla, which is headed by a committee, has also traditionally regulated the unofficial taxation of its members and the disbursement of funds to local mosques

[xiii] International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights, Women 2000: Uzbekistan (21 November 2000), on-line, available at <www.ihf-hr.org>, accessed 11 December 2000: 494.

[xiv] Ibid.

[xv] Marfua Tokhtakhodjaeva, “Traditional Stereotypes and Women’s Problems in Post-Soviet Uzbekistan: A Survey of the Mass Media,” Women Living Under Muslim Laws Dossier 22 (November 1999): 35.

[xvi] Ibid.

[xvii] Sayora Sharafovna Rashidova, “Women’s Rights are Human Rights,” In: Women’s Committee of Uzbekistan; The Open Society Institute - Assistance Foundation - Uzbekistan; USAID/Global Training for Development (GTD) Project; USAID/Winrock International, Gender Equality in Uzbekistan: Status and Development Perspectives, Conference Materials (7-8 September 2000), Tashkent, Uzbekistan.

[xviii] International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights, Women 2000: Uzbekistan (21 November 2000), on-line, available at <www.ihf-hr.org>, accessed 11 December 2000: 494.

[xix] Ibid.

[xx] Ibid.

[xxi] Human Rights Watch, Human Rights Watch World Report 2001: Uzbekistan-Human Rights Developments, available at <www.hrw.org/wr2k1/europe/uzbekistan.html>, accessed 10 November 2000.

[xxii] Marfua Tokhtakhodjaeva, “Public Opinion Formation in Gender Equality Area,” In: Women’s Committee of Uzbekistan; The Open Society Institute - Assistance Foundation - Uzbekistan; USAID/Global Training for Development (GTD) Project; USAID/Winrock International, Gender Equality in Uzbekistan: Status and Development Perspectives, Conference Materials (7-8 September 2000), Tashkent, Uzbekistan.

[xxiii] Marfua Tokhtakhodjaeva, “Traditional Stereotypes and Women’s Problems in Post-Soviet Uzbekistan: A Survey of the Mass Media,” 32.

[xxiv] Marfua Tokhtakhodjaeva, “Public Opinion Formation in Gender Equality Area.”

[xxv] Ibid.

[xxvi] Marfua Tokhtakhodjaeva, “Traditional Stereotypes and Women’s Problems in Post-Soviet Uzbekistan: A Survey of the Mass Media,” Women Living Under Muslim Laws Dossier 22 (November 1999): 37.

[xxvii] International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights, Women 2000: Uzbekistan.

[xxix] Ibid.

[xxx] Human Rights Watch, Human Rights Watch World Report 2001: Uzbekistan-Human Rights Developments, available at <www.hrw.org/wr2k1/europe/uzbekistan.html>, accessed 10 November 2000.

[xxxi] International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights, Women 2000: Uzbekistan.

[xxxii] Sayora Sharafovna Rashidova, “Women’s Rights are Human Rights,” In: Women’s Committee of Uzbekistan; The Open Society Institute - Assistance Foundation - Uzbekistan; USAID/Global Training for Development (GTD) Project; USAID/Winrock International, Gender Equality in Uzbekistan: Status and Development Perspectives, Conference Materials (7-8 September 2000), Tashkent, Uzbekistan.

[xxxiii] International Research&Exchange Board (IREX), Women in Central Asia: Continuing Change in the Post-Soviet Era, conference report (November 1997), available at <www.irex.org/publications/policy-papers/central-asiawomen.htm, accessed 10 November 2000.

[xxxiv] International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights, Women 2000: Uzbekistan, 502.

[xxxv] Ibid.

[xxxvi] International Research&Exchange Board (IREX), Women in Central Asia: Continuing Change in the Post-Soviet Era, conference report (November 1997), available at <www.irex.org/publications/policy-papers/central-asiawomen.htm, accessed 10 November 2000.

[xxxviii] Marfua Tokhtakhodjaeva, “Traditional Stereotypes and Women’s Problems in Post-Soviet Uzbekistan: A Survey of the Mass Media,” 35.

[xxxix] Marfua Tokhtakhodjaeva, “Public Opinion Formation in Gender Equality Area.”

[xl] International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights, Women 2000: Uzbekistan , 495.

[xli] Naomi Neft and Ann D. Levine, Where Women Stand (New York: Random House, 1997), 502.

[xlii] Sayora Sharafovna Rashidova, “Women’s Rights are Human Rights.”

[xliii] Ibid.

[xliv] United Nations Development Program (UNDP), Report on the Status of Women in Uzbekistan (1999), Tashkent, Uzbekistan.

[xlv] International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights, Women 2000: Uzbekistan, 496.

[xlvi] Marfua Tokhtakhodjaeva, “Traditional Stereotypes and Women’s Problems in Post-Soviet Uzbekistan: A Survey of the Mass Media,” 38.

[xlvii] International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights, Women 2000: Uzbekistan, 496.

[xlviii] Ibid., 497.

[xlix] Ibid., 496.

[l] Tadjihon Djalalovna Saidikramova, “Women & Economic Problems,” In: Women’s Committee of Uzbekistan; The Open Society Institute - Assistance Foundation - Uzbekistan; USAID/Global Training for Development (GTD) Project; USAID/Winrock International, Gender Equality in Uzbekistan: Status and Development Perspectives, Conference Materials (7-8 September 2000), Tashkent, Uzbekistan.

[li] Minnesota Advocates for Human Rights, Domestic Violence in Uzbekistan (Fall 2000), advance copy, 11.

[lii] Sayora Sharafovna Rashidova, “Women’s Rights are Human Rights.”

[liii] Ibid.

[liv] Marfua Tokhtakhodjaeva, “Traditional Stereotypes and Women’s Problems in Post-Soviet Uzbekistan: A Survey of the Mass Media,” Women Living Under Muslim Laws Dossier 22 (November 1999): 38.

[lv] International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights, Women 2000: Uzbekistan, 496.

[lvi] Ibid.

[lvii] Marfua Tokhtakhodjaeva, “Public Opinion Formation in Gender Equality Area.”

[lviii] Ibid.

[lix] International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights, Women 2000: Uzbekistan, 497.

[lx] International Research&Exchange Board (IREX), Women in Central Asia: Continuing Change in the Post-Soviet Era, conference report (November 1997), available at <www.irex.org/publications/policy-papers/central-asiawomen.htm, accessed 10 November 2000.

[lxi] Marfua Tokhtakhodjaeva, “Public Opinion Formation in Gender Equality Area.”

[lxii] International Research&Exchange Board (IREX), Women in Central Asia: Continuing Change in the Post-Soviet Era, conference report (November 1997).

[lxiii] Minnesota Advocates for Human Rights, Domestic Violence in Uzbekistan, footnote 12, 4.

[lxiv] International Research&Exchange Board (IREX).

[lxv] International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights, Women 2000: Uzbekistan, 468.

[lxvi] Ibid.

[lxvii] International Research&Exchange Board (IREX).

[lxix] International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights, Women 2000: Uzbekistan, 497.

[lxx] Richard C. Paddock, “Villagers Still Waiting for the State to Save Them: Central Asia: Soviet-Era Mentality Lives on in Hamblet, where Residents Scratch out a Living Amid Soaring Inflation and Dwindling Resources,” Los Angeles Times, 20 June 2000, on-line, Nexis.

[lxxi] Minnesota Advocates for Human Rights, Domestic Violence in Uzbekistan, footnote 12, 13.

[lxxii] International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights, Women 2000: Uzbekistan, 498.

[lxxiv] Minnesota Advocates for Human Rights, Domestic Violence in Uzbekistan, 16.

[lxxv] Marfua Tokhtakhodjaeva, “Traditional Stereotypes and Women’s Problems in Post-Soviet Uzbekistan: A Survey of the Mass Media,” 33.

[lxxvi] Ibid., 41.

[lxxvii] Human Rights Watch, Human Rights Watch World Report 2001: Uzbekistan-Human Rights Developments, available at <www.hrw.org/wr2k1/europe/uzbekistan.html>, accessed 10 November 2000.

[lxxviii] Minnesota Advocates for Human Rights, Domestic Violence in Uzbekistan, 20.

[lxxix] Naomi Neft and Ann D. Levine, Where Women Stand (New York: Random House, 1997), 97.

[lxxx] Minnesota Advocates for Human Rights, Domestic Violence in Uzbekistan, 26.

[lxxxi] Ibid.

 

 


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