11/22/2021, 13.53
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Dushanbe: Harsher sentences for violence against minors

by Vladimir Rozanskij

An age-old scourge in the country that the government is struggling to eradicate. Fines of up to 30 euros for offenders. In 2019-2020 more than 27 thousand people were reported for violent behavior towards children. Psychologists: far more incisive actions are needed.



Moscow (AsiaNews) - The Lower House of the Parliament of Tajikistan has approved new rules of the Criminal Procedure Code that provide for harsher punishments against those responsible for violence against children: an ancient scourge that is struggling to be eradicated from Tajik behavior.

A recent case involved Emomali Sokhibov, a father of three, who divorced his wife over misunderstandings, and now his mother won't let him see his children. Living close to his ex-wife, the man sometimes meets the children on the street. He recounts that "the children when they see me, they run away... I asked why, and they told me that if their mother comes to know that they talked to me, she will beat them up." Emomali explains that she also saw marks of beatings on their bodies: "They told me that they were whipped with a cable after they met me". The mother denied the violence, refusing to speak to reporters. The father sought justice in court, but the court did not take his claims seriously.

According to the decision of the Tajik parliament in recent days, fines for acts of violence against children have been raised from 300 to 420 somon (just over 30 euros), a modest amount, although relevant by local standards. The authorities are reluctant to apply stricter restrictive measures, because this would lead to the judicial persecution of thousands of people, without solving the problem, indeed perhaps causing further tensions and violence.

Deputy Prosecutor General of Tajikistan, Mirzoamon Rafizoda, said in Parliament that the number of people sanctioned for this crime is growing exponentially from year to year: in 2019-2020 alone, more than 27 thousand people were reported for violent behavior against children. He called not only for increasing the fines, but also for identifying more appropriate criminal measures.

According to many observers, the stated figures do not correspond to the real situation, since it is often impossible to verify what happens within the walls of the home. Videos of violence against children are increasingly appearing on social media, and their spread has convinced political and judicial authorities to take up the problem. A viral video from last May, in which a man beats a child, led to the arrest of the perpetrator. In the clip, the father harshly reprimanded his son, smashing his head on the ground with his foot.

Such attitudes are unfortunately widespread in Tajikistan not only in families, but also in schools, kindergartens and many public places. According to Dušanbe psychologist Makhmadullo Davlatov, children who witness or suffer such violence should be expected to behave in a similar manner in adulthood. "Those who exercise violence sow it in the hearts of their child victims, who will grow up with the desire for revenge," according to Davlatov.

Psychologists were disappointed with the parliamentary decisions. According to Davlatov, "it is essential to carry out wide-ranging work in our society, not only with the victims, but also with those who inflict violence, to induce them not to repeat such actions." Some voluntary associations are working to intervene in this field, also to counteract the exploitation of child labor, solve the problem of poor nutrition of children and their social dispersion. Often minors are abandoned by their parents, forced to emigrate abroad to find work and survive.

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