On November 22, 2019, the Kyrgyz Association of Women Judges presented the results of a study on sexual harassment in universities and workplaces. The research shows that more than two-thirds of women surveyed acknowledged that the problem of sexual harassment exists, while one in four women reported that they have experienced sexual harassment themselves.
As a part of the study, supported by the USAID Collaborative Governance Program, the Association anonymously surveyed 877 women and girls in various workplaces and universities in Bishkek, Kara-Balta, Osh, and Tokmok. While a majority acknowledged the problem, 23% of working women and 21.9% of female students reported that they were sexually harassed themselves. The study shows that 80% of cases occur in public institutions.
The vast majority of respondents said that they did not know where to report these cases, and even if they knew, many feared compromising their reputation. In most cases, women seek help and advice from their friends (48.4%) and none of these cases were reported to law enforcement bodies.
The study results were presented and discussed at a special meeting with the participation of over 100 representatives of State bodies, international organizations, civil society, as well as judges and Members of Parliament.
According to Chinara Aydarbekova from the Kyrgyz Association of Women Judges, most of the time victims of sexual harassment are young women and girls. “It was depressing to read that after suffering harassment, women experienced complete impotence, felt humiliated, and lost interest in their work,'' said Ms. Aydarbekova.
Based on the study results, the Kyrgyz Association of Women Judges developed recommendations to overcome this problem, including legislative amendments to prosecute perpetrators as well as different preventative measures that can be implemented in the workplace.
The USAID Collaborative Governance Program (CGP) promotes effective collaboration between civil society and the state bodies of the Kyrgyz Republic. The Program is funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and is implemented by the East-West Management Institute (EWMI).