Can An Ex-Minister’s Arrest In His Wife’s Brutal Killing Finally Bring Protections To Kazakh Women?
Can An Ex-Minister's Arrest In His Wife's Brutal Killing Finally Bring Protections To Kazakh Women? Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty
Domestic Violence in Kazakhstan: A Call for Change
ALMATY, Kazakhstan — This wasn’t the picture that most people associate with domestic violence.
The suspect: a boyish-looking 43-year-old who was once the country’s youngest-ever minister and who enjoyed wealth and privilege beyond most of his compatriots’ dreams.
The victim: his fashionable wife, a self-professed astrologist who was beaten to death at the age of 31.
The location: a plush restaurant in an Astana food court co-owned by the suspect’s family.
It was not the first time Kazakhstan has exploded the myth that the problem of violence against women can be reduced to families living on the breadline in dilapidated apartments or in far-flung villages.
And it was not the first time that women are asking if this might just be the tragedy that leads to change and toward a system that protects rather than punishes them.
Zero Tolerance for Violence Against Women
“We don’t want the resonance from this case to die down and for everyone to act as if everything is normal, because it is not,” said Aleksandra Akanaeva, editor in chief of The Village, a Kazakh media website.
“We want zero tolerance now. In my opinion, our laws are disgusting. How can you say otherwise when one-in-three women say they have experienced some form of violence?” Akanaeva told RFE/RL.
But career activists remain skeptical that there is political will to revise the status quo.
Tragedy Strikes: The Death of Saltanat Nukenova
Former National Economy Minister Quandyq Bishimbaev and his spouse, Saltanat Nukenova, had been married for less than a year at the time of her death.
Nukenova was Bishimbaev’s third wife.
His second wife, Nazym, supported him over the course of his arrest, trial, and imprisonment in a corruption case that cut short the political career of perhaps the fastest-rising official of Kazakhstan’s independence era.
But their marriage ended not long after his release — two years into a 10-year sentence — under an amnesty in 2019.
Like Bishimbaev, whose father was one of the country’s most decorated university rectors and a reputed friend of former President Nursultan Nazarbaev, Nukenova’s family was involved in politics.
After her death in a VIP room of the Bau restaurant on November 9, Nukenova’s uncle, the former governor of Pavlodar, Qairat Nukenov, gave an interview in which he raised doubts about the objectivity of the investigation.
Speaking to Pavlodar-based journalist Bolat Amanbaev on November 12, Nukenov claimed that the women who had washed his niece’s corpse had “emerged petrified” from the experience.
“They had washed a lot of corpses, and they had never seen so many wounds on a woman’s body,” Nukenov said, also accusing Bishimbaev’s supporters of paying bloggers to spread false rumors about Nukenova.
Beyond the apparently heavy blows to the head sustained by Nukenova during the alleged assault, one especially disturbing detail in media reports that have emerged in lieu of sparse police statements about the incident is that Nukenova probably did not die quickly.
She may have even been kept in the restaurant for an extended period before an ambulance was finally called and a dazed-looking Bishimbaev was detained.
Astana police stated on November 12 that related charges of failing to report a crime and criminal neglect were being brought in connection with the case.
On the same day it became known that the director of the Gastro Center food court was under arrest on suspicion of covering up a crime.
The Bishimbaev family has refused to comment on the case.
The Need for Stronger Laws and Enforcement
Even in a week where Nazarbaev’s infamous younger brother Bolat Nazarbaev died, Nukenova’s death has received rolling coverage in the press and on social media.
At present, a petition calling for stronger punishment for domestic abusers has more than 100,000 signatories — well over the threshold required for authorities to have to consider the demand.
On November 15, President Qasym-Zhomart Toqaev held a meeting with Interior Minister Erzhan Sadenov, Prosecutor-General Berik Asylov, and Supreme Court Chairman Aslambek Merghaliev, among others, ordering them to give special attention to the case, while reminding them that “the law is the same for all.”
It was necessary to “decisively combat any instances of violence against women and children,” Toqaev added.
But despite some 400 women dying every year from violence, according to United Nations statistics, Kazakh law enforcement has a habit of shrugging when it comes such a mandate.
SDGs, Targets, and Indicators
1. Which SDGs are addressed or connected to the issues highlighted in the article?
- SDG 5: Gender Equality
- SDG 16: Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions
2. What specific targets under those SDGs can be identified based on the article’s content?
- Target 5.2: Eliminate all forms of violence against all women and girls in the public and private spheres
- Target 16.1: Significantly reduce all forms of violence and related death rates everywhere
3. Are there any indicators mentioned or implied in the article that can be used to measure progress towards the identified targets?
- Indicator for Target 5.2: Proportion of women and girls subjected to physical, sexual, or psychological violence in the past 12 months
- Indicator for Target 16.1: Number of victims of intentional homicide per 100,000 population, by sex and age
Table: SDGs, Targets, and Indicators
|SDG 5: Gender Equality||Target 5.2: Eliminate all forms of violence against all women and girls in the public and private spheres||Proportion of women and girls subjected to physical, sexual, or psychological violence in the past 12 months|
|SDG 16: Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions||Target 16.1: Significantly reduce all forms of violence and related death rates everywhere||Number of victims of intentional homicide per 100,000 population, by sex and age|
The article highlights the issue of violence against women in Kazakhstan, specifically focusing on a high-profile case of domestic violence resulting in the death of a woman. This issue is connected to SDG 5: Gender Equality, which aims to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls. The article also mentions the need for a system that protects women rather than punishes them, which aligns with SDG 16: Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions.
Based on the content of the article, the specific targets that can be identified are Target 5.2, which focuses on eliminating all forms of violence against women and girls, and Target 16.1, which aims to reduce all forms of violence and related death rates. These targets address the need to address and prevent violence against women in Kazakhstan.
The article mentions indicators that can be used to measure progress towards these targets. For Target 5.2, the indicator is the proportion of women and girls subjected to physical, sexual, or psychological violence in the past 12 months. This indicator can help track the prevalence of violence against women and measure efforts to eliminate it. For Target 16.1, the indicator is the number of victims of intentional homicide per 100,000 population, by sex and age. This indicator can provide insights into the rates of violence-related deaths and help assess the effectiveness of measures to reduce violence.
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