Project Update #18: Roundtable on Violence
January 23, 2019
Part of: World Bank & Sexual Violence Research Initiative Project: ‘Combating Sexual Violence in Kyrgyzstan through Innovative Education and Information Technology (Kyrgyzstan, Central Asia)’
By: Aidana Abakova
As part of our project, we have worked to continue improving our approach and building local and international networks of researchers and organizations addressing issues of sexual and gender-based violence. On December 7th 2018 our team – Elena Kim, Elena Molchanova, Ravshan Yusufov, and Aidana Abakova – had the great honor of participating in a roundtable discussion titled “Comprehensive services for people affected by sexual and gender-based violence” organized by the Executive Director of the Public Association Reproductive Health Alliance, Galina Chrikina. The roundtable aimed to improve collaboration across various governmental organizations and researchers.
The roundtable hoped to address a complex set of components related to violence. Starting with the prevention and detection of violence, and moving to discussions of innovative responses to violence. Further, the group looked at the provision of medical, legal, and social assistance in society. The goal of this meeting was to begin working towards implementation of standards and practices to guide medical practice throughout the various ministries and departments within Kyrgyzstan.
Throughout the day, representatives came together from law enforcement and legal assistance sectors; medical institutions and medical care sector; juridical medical examination; psychological assistance; social support; and non-governmental organizations and communities. These representatives were divided into teams with the goal of discussing issues in prevention and response to sexual and gender-based violence. With representatives from such a wide array of fields, the hope was that they would be best situated to understand the needs and abilities they each possessed and how to bring these into conversation with the other fields. As part of these various sectors, our team represented the psychological assistance sector. Dr Elena Molchanova, on behalf of our team, shared what is currently being done related to these matters, and what needs to be addressed in the sphere of psychological assistance in Kyrgyzstan.
Many positive changes and initiatives were shared. For example, a set of standards of care have been introduced providing psychological assistance to people affected by sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) as well as psychological standards for LGBT populations. Further, standard of care for children affected by SGBV has been approved and implemented. Educational programs were introduced at universities (at the moment, primarily at the American University in Central Asia). At the University of the Southern Region – Jalal-Abad, a course was introduced within the educational process of social workers on training in providing assistance to victims of SGBV. The Republican Center for Mental Health held training for cognitive-behavioral psychotherapy and also formed a group of specialists who are engaged in tracking cases of PTSD (after incidents where they experienced violence). ILIM Ordosy in Jalal-Abad city, which has just been opened, is a science center where young graduate students can conduct research. As part of this work, the ‘Case Management Investigation Guide: Effective Crime Investigation’ was presented in the fall of 2018. Standards were approved for organizing crisis centers. In Karakol city, cases were presented which showed the effectiveness of the Istanbul Protocol, in providing services to victims from SGBV. The organization SOS Children’s Villages presented their Family Strengthening Project and the various trainings that were held as part of this, as well as informational work to increase public awareness. For the first time, crisis centers began to receive funding from the state (through state social order; this occurred in four regions, including Bishkek city). Gender policy in the academic field has became of greater interest for research, which has resulted in academic degrees being awarded.
In spite of all of these positive changes, there are still some challenges that were shared during the roundtable discussion, with the hope of addressing them in a near future. One of these is that the real cost of assistance exceeds the current capacity of the state. Lack of crisis centers in the remote regions is certainly another challenge. While the government provides psychiatric service, there is no state psychological help service that extends into this field. Even the quality of psychological assistance itself is not monitored. This is compounded by a lack of a single focal point to improve interagency (interdepartmental) cooperation. Much work needs to be done in prevention issues, since there is lack of standards for preventive work. Another challenge is the absence of an anti-discrimination law, meaning, in a sense, that there is no law that guarantees equality. In legislative documents, there is no place for clarification and determination of the value of psychological assistance to victims of SGBV.
Work of psychologist is not prioritized and there are less professionals prepared in the country, with some remote villages that do not have them at all. The exception to this the case is sometimes that of private NGOs which provides psychological assistance. As part of addressing these issues, traditionalism needs to be addressed and requires special study, particularly since the mentality always plays, at minimum, an explanatory function.
The second part of Rountable’s discussion was dedicated to the topic: “Opportunities and perspectives for intersectoral interaction in the prevention and response to sexual and gender-based violence.” The Istanbul Protocol was introduced as an effective tool in cases of violence. Dr. Elena Kim pointed out another positive opportunity in the prevention of SGBV, highlighting the role this project seeks to make, and discussing the development of a mobile application aimed at gathering all procedural information regarding these matters in one platform, while providing proactive assistance to victims of SGBV. The hope is that the application can become a locus for innovative in Kyrgyzstan regarding these issues. Dr. Kim informed the group that the final outcomes of the project will be presented at the next roundtable that will take place in January 2020. The next roundtable will provide the opportunity for many others to present their updates and how the first roundtable impacted on their work.