5 November 2019, National Library of Tajikistan, 10:00

Talking points of Dr. Pratibha Mehta,

UN Resident Coordinator a.i, UNDP Resident Representative in Tajikistan


Dear Madam Yusufi, Chair of the Committee and VC of Parliament

Honorable members of the Committee on Population Development

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Thank you for inviting UN and EU Ambassador to the Population Development Committee meeting which is reviewing additional provisions in the law on domestic violence, an extremely important law if we are serious about putting a stop to all forms of violence against women and girls. 

Domestic and sexual violence is a global issue, we known that one in every three women is subjected to sexual, physical or psychological violence during her life, here in Tajikistan, 24% of women aged 19-49 in Tajikistan have reported to experience physical or sexual violence and 97% of the perpetrators of violence for ever-married women are reported to be their current or former husbands. Recently, I have been regularly visiting a dental hospital here and seeing many young and elderly women coming for treatment, the doctor informed me that most of them come for treatment for broken teeth mainly because of violent beating at home.   Some live in pain and silence for several years before coming for treatment.  

For years, domestic violence has been considered a private family matter that no one should talk about. For generations our gender stereotypes have made us all blame woman for getting raped and beaten up than for us to even acknowledge that it’s the man who should be held responsible for the crime. We have all grown up thinking that sexual teasing of women and girls on the streets, in workplaces is normal because that is what boys and men do. But no longer. Evidence show that violence is neither hormonal nor a prerogative of a male, it is an offense which should be punished.  Incorporating all these issues in the domestic violence law is extremely important.  

By adopting the SDGs and gender equality goal, the world leader has also committed to eliminating violence against women and girls and, to support their efforts, EU and UN have jointly launched an ambitious global initiative called the spotlight initiative to promote urgent action and to support implementation of national domestic law and other laws.           

The spotlight initiative in Tajikistan will help implement government priority to empower women, address domestic violence and promote women’s human rights. It will built on the progress made so far in Tajikistan and will focus on the root causes of sexual violence against women and girls by supporting actions on six complimentary pillars:    

1.    Further reforms of laws and policies to protect the rights of women and girls, including supporting implementation of UPR and CEDAW recommendation to criminalize domestic violence.

2.    Strengthen institutional capacity and transform institutional mind set of law enforcement and service delivery agencies such as police, local Administration, national entities and Ministries as well as those that help shape attitudes such as schools and family.

3.    Promote prevention by changing negative social norms through public awareness and behavior change activities and campaigns.  

4.    Improve quality of services offered to the survivors of violence such as legal aid, counselling, health, etc.

5.    Collection of reliable data for evidence-based planning, financing and monitoring progress. 

6.    Government role in eliminating violence is crucial but it cannot alone address the issues, the Spotlight initiative will also help build capacity of civil society to engage as equal partners.  

The project duration is three years from an expected 2020 – 2023 for $7 mln from EU. The project will first be funded for 2 years depending on delivery and UN Agencies will contribute $1 mln plus institutional costs. The integrated objectives of the spotlight initiative cannot be achieved by one Agency or by one Ministry, therefore, four UN Agencies, UNFPA, UNWOMEN, UNDP and UNICEF will work together in partnership with relevant Ministries, Parliament and government entities and CSOs given the complexity and sensitivity of issues.

A steering committee co-chaired by the UN and Government designated spotlight counterpart, the Committee of Women and Family Affairs will be established to oversee the spotlight initiative with membership of all relevant stakeholders and EU will be partner throughout the process.  

As mentioned, the programme document is being prepared based on our on-going work in the country and consultations with various ministries and CSOs, we have requested our government counterpart to organize a consultative meeting at the end of the month where we can present the full country program document to the stakeholders.      

We look forward to our partnership and collective efforts to bring transformational changes to ensure elimination of violence against women and girls.

I would once again like to thank Madame Yusufi for inviting me to share information on spotlight and for her leadership on reforming the law on domestic violence.   

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