Kazakhstan's domestic violence legislation, a growing social policy partnership with Europe (2024)

Kazakhstan’s legislative reforms targeting domestic violence are at a pivotal moment, with new laws taking effect on 16 June which aim to protect women and children. By aligning with European standards and fostering international collaboration, Kazakhstan is seeking to establish zero tolerance for domestic violence.

Lawmakers view the road ahead as requiring continuous efforts to challenge cultural prejudices, promote gender equality, and ensure a safer future for all Kazakhstanis.

“The reason I am passionate about this law is because in Kazakhstan we have a different attitude toward family. It is a true value of our people, and this new law is very important to protect our families,” Arthur Lasstayev, Human Rights Ombudsman and Commissioner of Human Rights told Euractiv.

“This is a victory for our country. I am happy now because we were able to do something in a very short period of time. Now we have to enforce this law, I don’t think the community will be able to remain silent after the tragic death of Saltanat Kukenova, people have a very good attitude,” said Commissioner Lasstayev.

Spotlight on Kazakh domestic violence problem

The country’s former economy minister, Kuandyk Bishimbayev, was recorded on CCTV hitting and kicking his wife Saltanat Nukenova, beating her to death. The outrage which followed led to an accelerated legislative reforms.

The public outcry over Saltanat’s murder shone a spotlight on the country’s domestic violence problem and intensified civic scrutinty. Over 150,000 Kazakhstanis signed a petition demanding the criminalisation of domestic violence, reflecting a society eager for change.

“The petition was initiated on 23 February 2021, however, after the murder, it was revived by the society,” Professor Muslim Khassenov told Euractiv.

Khassenov is a co-author of the law, an Associate Professor of Maqsut Narikbayev University, a Member of the National Commission for Women’s Affairs, Family and Demographic Policy under the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan, and a member of the Civic Chamber under the Majilis Parliament of the Republic of Kazakhstan.

“This was one act of violence that gained a lot of attention, but there are thousands more that have gone invisible.”

Professor Khassenov added a sobering statistic: “Every fifth criminal offence in the family and domestic sphere results in a person’s death. Over the past six years, we’ve lost 1238 lives due to domestic violence.”

Enacting protective laws

On 15 April 15, President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev enacted significant legislative reforms that had been in the works for years.

The laws titled “On Amendments and Additions to Certain Legislative Acts of the Republic of Kazakhstan Regarding the Protection of Women’s Rights and Children’s Safety” and “On Amendments and Additions to the Administrative Offenses Code of Kazakhstan Regarding the Protection of Women’s Rights and Children’s Safety” were passed by the Senate and Mazhilis.

Under two-thirds of all registered offences, (annually average 6030 cases) of intentional infliction or minor bodily harm and beatings cases are terminated, and only one-third of offenders are brought to judicial responsibility.

While stricter penalties address violence against women and children, the law also introduces preventive measures.

Early identification of individuals and families in difficult situations, along with special requirements for offenders’ behaviour, are crucial steps toward reshaping societal attitudes regarding gender-based violence.

Challenges and cultural shifts

Despite legislative advancements, challenges persist. “Not everyone agrees with this measure due to entrenched gender stereotypes. Changing these attitudes is an evolutionary process, not an immediate solution.”

“But society is becoming more and more aware, and this case is a good example of hearing the needs of society by the government.”

Khassenov believes this law will have a comprehensive impact. “The next steps will be criminalisation of stalking, and in the next months we will analyse the new law, research data, statistics, and sociological surveys to assess the impact and we will focus on building the infrastructure to support families.”

International collaboration and best practices

Kazakhstan’s commitment to addressing domestic violence extends beyond its national borders. The country actively collaborates with international organisations, including UN Women and the European Union, to create a safer environment for women and children.

Kazakhstan aims to integrate European best practices and international standards into its legislative framework, using the Istanbul Convention as a model. “International standards are our standards, and we are ready to live in a good country,” said Commissioner Lasstayev.

Beyond economics, Professor Khassenov hopes for a partnership with Europe that includes a social dimension. Strategic agreements with the European Union involve projects to enhance protections for vulnerable populations.”

[By Nicole VerbeeckI Edited by Brian Maguire | Euractiv’s Advocacy Lab ]

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Kazakhstan's domestic violence legislation, a growing social policy partnership with Europe (2024)


What is the domestic violence rate in Kazakhstan? ›

Domestic violence is a leading human rights issue in Kazakhstan. According to government statistics, 17 percent of women aged 18-75 have experienced physical or sexual violence in their lifetime. Additionally, the Union of Crisis Centers of Kazakhstan reports that domestic abuse occurs in one out of eight families.

What country has the best domestic violence laws? ›

Taken in this perspective, the United States is (at least legally) one of the safest places in the world when it comes to domestic violence.

What country has the highest percentage of domestic abuse? ›

A UN report compiled from a number of different studies conducted in at least 71 countries found domestic violence against women to be most prevalent in Ethiopia.

Is Kazakhstan a crime rate? ›

Kazakhstan crime rate & statistics for 2021 was 0.00, a 100% decline from 2020. Kazakhstan crime rate & statistics for 2020 was 3.19, a INF% increase from 2019.

What is the most abused country in the world? ›


According to the Global Peace Index, Afghanistan has long been considered the most dangerous country in the world. The nation's tumultuous history, ongoing conflict, and high levels of violence have earned it this dubious distinction.

Which country has the strictest crime laws? ›

Share with a friend:
  • Certain countries are known for having stringent laws and harsh punishments for those who violate them. ...
  • North Korea. ...
  • China. ...
  • Singapore. ...
  • Saudi Arabia. ...
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  • Final thoughts…
Apr 5, 2024

How many countries have no laws against domestic violence? ›

In 49 countries there is no specific law against domestic violence, in 45 there is no legislation to address sexual harassment, and 112 countries do not criminalize marital rape.

Who has the highest domestic violence rate? ›

Although completely accurate numbers are not easily available, researchers generally agree that, among ethnic minority groups in the United States, Black people are the most likely to experience domestic violence—either male-to-female or female-to-male—followed by Hispanic people and White people.

What countries have the highest gender based violence? ›

  • South Africa and Brazil top the list due to extremely high rates of violence against women, including sexual violence and intentional homicide.
  • Russia and Mexico are notably dangerous due to high intentional homicide rates against women and significant limitations on women's societal and economic participation.

What is the rate of domestic violence in the world? ›

Estimates published by WHO indicate that globally about 1 in 3 (30%) of women worldwide have been subjected to either physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence in their lifetime. Most of this violence is intimate partner violence.

What is the domestic violence rate in Azerbaijan? ›

Domestic violence in Azerbaijan is prevalent. 43% of women have experienced domestic violence, and in 29% of cases, the abuser was the victim' spouse.


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