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Kazakhstan – Analysis and List of Recommendations for the Authorities after Amendments in Legislation Combatting Domestic Violence

The President of Kazakhstan signed laws that could address some forms of domestic violence on April 15, 2024. The amendments were adopted against the backdrop of the high-profile trial against a former Minister of National Economy accused of the brutal murder of his wife. We welcome the adoption of these laws, which send an important message to society that violence against women and children is unacceptable. However, the legislation must be strengthened and properly enforced in practice to ensure greater protection of women and girls from violence.

Among other amendments, intentional infliction of minor harm to health and battery has been reintroduced in the Criminal Code – Articles 108-1 and 109-1 of the Criminal Code (CC RK), respectively, after decriminalization in 2017. There is now a list of aggravating circumstances (for example, if the act is committed with particular cruelty, or against a person in a helpless state or in a material or other dependence on the perpetrator, or against a minor, etc.) which lead to a harsher penalty – up to two years of imprisonment for intentional infliction of minor harm to health and arrest for up to fifty days for battery.

However, these amendments do not, for the most part, address the issue of sexual violence against women. At the same time, sexual violence in Kazakhstan remains highly largely hidden, and official statistics do not reflect its prevalence. Victims face a number of obstacles to justice for sexual violence. In particular, a consent-based definition of sexual violence crimes should be introduced to the Criminal Code, and marital and intimate partner rape should be explicitly criminalized.

Explore our detailed analysis of the recent amendments (in Russian and English), including a list of recommendations for Kazakhstan’s authorities to enact.