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Final report of the Republic of Azerbaijan on the Council of Europe Campaign to Combat Violence against Women, including Domestic Violence

The Republic of Azerbaijan has joined the Council of Europe Campaign to Combat Violence against Women, including Domestic Violence from the very first day it was launched in November 29, 2006 and since have expressed its commitment to the reduction of violence against women including domestic violence through reasonable measures such as strengthening legislative base, conducting supportive measures for victims of violence, raising awareness of all strata of society.
As a result of the purposeful policy of Azerbaijani Government, a special budget has been allocated for activities conducted on prevention of and fight against women. So, Azerbaijan is strongly committed to reduce violence against women and children after the end of the Council of Europe Campaign as well. The projects and activities are defined to be implemented within the budget.
The effective financing of the activities related to the elimination of violence against women and children plays central role in prevention and elimination policy. The outcomes of the side event organized by the Council of Europe together with Permanent Representative of the Republic of Azerbaijan to the United Nations in the framework of the 52nd session of the Commission on the Status of Women on “Gender Equality Standards and Mechanisms in Europe: financing and effective functioning” showed that, this policy is essential for us and for every member state for further defining major goals in provision of gender equality as well as combating violence against women.
The measures taken by Azerbaijani Government are stated in following chapters describing the main achievements of Azerbaijan in combating violence against women.
The State Committee for Family, Women and Children Affairs of the Republic of Azerbaijan, the Heydar Aliyev Foundation chaired by the first lady of the country and United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) have signed a joint project “XXI century without violence against women”. The Project will be implemented within 20 months until September 2009 and will cover all the regions of Azerbaijan. The goals of the Project are:

    · Creation of additional opportunities for women to use their rights;
    · Increasing women’s participation in the society;
    · Prevention of violence, early marriages and reduction of influence of such cases over the children;
    · Protection of women and children against domestic violence;
    · Enlightenment of population in the field of gender issues.

Below mentioned measures are expected to be taken within the framework of the Project:

    · Studying international experience as well as involving an international expert in the Project;
    · Conduction of wide-ranging awareness-raising campaigns on human rights and gender equality, organization of regional workshops, publication of relevant materials;
    · Raising awareness on trafficking and early marriages in secondary schools;
    · Broadcasting awareness-raising TV or radio programmes;
    · Working out strategy on services for victims of gender-based violence;
    · Improvement of cooperation mechanisms between gender focal points in state organizations etc.

At the present, the documentation process has been finalized regarding the implementation process. Annual Work Plan (2008) has also been worked out regarding the future activities. These activities include all crucial spheres in prevention and elimination mechanisms such as awareness-raising activities, assistance and rehabilitation of victims of violence, elaboration of models of rehabilitation centres for victims of violence etc.

    a. Legal and policy measures

Legal framework available to combat gender based violence will be evaluated and gaps and inconsistencies will be identified in existing legislation. The government will be assisted in bringing the current legislation in line with best practices and international human rights standards.
The existence of policies and a National Plan of Action on gender-based violence is a precondition for a successful fight against this problem i.e. to coordinate activities to be undertaken within a certain period of time, to make required legal changes and to establish necessary infrastructure.
National legislation envisaged punishment for crimes like rape contained provisions envisaging protection of women against all kinds of violence. The Criminal Code of the Republic of Azerbaijan also prescribes punishment for violent behaviour of sexual nature.
Recent years in connection with increasing attention to the issues of protection of women’s rights, violence against women and other issues, legislation is being improved at this direction. Mainstreaming of these issues to the legislative acts facilitated to better understand the scope and seriousness of the problem. Because of the cross-cutting character of violence against women, they are broadly reflected in legislative acts tackling other problems.
Draft Law on Fight Against Domestic Violence. One of the crucial steps of the Government of the Republic of Azerbaijan in elimination of domestic violence is elaboration of Draft Law “On prevention of domestic violence”. The Draft Law was drafted by local and international experts and submitted to the National Parliament for consideration. The Draft Law thoroughly describes the issues like protection and rehabilitation of victims of violence, punishment of perpetrators etc. the Draft Law has been broadly discussed between parliamentarians, experts from governmental and non-governmental and international organizations and is expected to be adopted the next year.
The “Complex Program of the Republic on combating daily violence in democratic society” was approved by the Cabinet of Ministers of Azerbaijan Republic with the order dated 25 January, 2007, envisages elaboration of strategic plans on every sphere in order to eliminate domestic violence, gender and other type of inequality and cruelty in the society; working out proposals on elaborating law on protection of women from violence against them, as well as laws regulating the realization of CEDAW. The Complex Program also envisages organization of social rehabilitation for refugee and IDP women and children subjected to recurring violence under conditions of forced displacement and increased cases of domestic violence, organization of retraining courses in order to reduce unemployment rate among women, determination of criteria of violence against women, elaboration of academic programs in universities on equality and especially on violence against women and etc.
National Plan of Action on protection of human rights was approved by the Decree of the President of the country in December 28, 2006. The Plan of Action envisages strengthening fight violence against women including domestic violence provision of legal protection, compensation, rehabilitation, medical and psychological assistance of victims of violence, conduction of wide-scaled awareness raising activities among population.
National Plan of Action on Family and Women’s Issues was prepared by the national experts – representatives of governmental, non-governmental and international organizations. The Action Plan is expected to be adopted at the end of the next year. There is a separate chapter dedicated to the issues of prevention of domestic violence, violence against women and early marriages in the Plan of Action. The Chapter envisages prevention of cases of domestic violence and violence against women, to detect such cases timely, institution of criminal proceedings against offenders, intensifying measures on restoration of victim’s rights, improvement of legal protection and socio-psychological rehabilitation of victims of violence, conduction of research on reasons and factors favourable for violence, education of professionals for rehabilitation of victims of violence and for ensuring preventive work with offenders, raising awareness of population on reasons and consequences of the violence against women.
State Program on Poverty Reduction and Sustainable Development. In order to support the realization of the Presidential Decrees, Orders issued on women’s issues, the Government of Azerbaijan develops state programs mainstreaming gender component. The State Program on Poverty Reduction and Sustainable Development (2008-2015) fully incorporates gender component in to the Program. The issue of combating violence against women, including domestic violence is also mainstreamed to the Program. The main provisions of the Program on combating domestic violence are working out National Plan of Action and Law on fight against domestic violence, raising awareness on the problem among population etc.
Collecting population-based and administrative data
There is no precise statistics on domestic violence. And this is typical almost for all countries. Women and children subjected to violence do not report about violence cases because of social and psychological reasons. At result, very few information is officially registered about cases of domestic violence. The absence of official data constitutes a serious hindrance for an efficient argumentation concerning the importance of combating the problem. For this purpose, under the overall leadership and guidance of the UNFPA Area Office and national partners a monitoring and evaluation system will be set up that will ensure effective and timely action information sharing, reporting and harmonization of indicators. Within the framework of the activities, country-wide surveys will be carried out in rural and urban places, cover household surveys and will be comparable to reproductive health and/or demographic surveys. Surveys are deemed necessary for several reasons; to get a realistic picture of the problem in order to have a plan of action; to have a basis for argumentation on the necessity to combat the problem; and to obtain the necessary involvement of authorities. The responsible organization for these activities will be the respective national statistics institution.
In order to reveal the cases of violence against women and collect the database on these cases the Project “XXI century without violence against women” aims at conduction survey in the regions of the country.
Raising awareness on violence against women
Awareness-raising plays great role in actions aimed at elimination of violence against women, including domestic violence. These actions are regularly implemented by all concerning state bodies in all regions of the country. The State Committee for Family, Women and Children Affairs together with corresponding bodies holds enlightenment campaigns directed at raising awareness of population especially beginning from schools and higher education institutions.
In line with campaigns booklets, brochures and other publications are prepared in cooperation with international organizations. In order to raise awareness of population on violence, the State Committee for Family, Women and Children Affairs together with UN High Commission for Refugees prepared banners on the topic of “Violence” and were placed in the regions of the country besides the capital. Besides, the State Committee together with UN Population Fund (UNFPA) has prepared and published booklets on gender equality and trafficking in human-beings. All these publications are distributed among all strata of society.
Azerbaijan has translated the video movie of the Campaign into the national language and broadcasted in several local TV channels.
Within the framework of the Project “XXI century without the violence against women” social ads about violence against women will be prepared. This Project also envisages awareness-raising campaigns in schools aimed at enlightenment of pupils on early marriages and trafficking in human-beings. The website of the Project will be available for more detailed information about the Project and works done.
Countrywide campaigns with the aim of increasing awareness and knowledge of the population will be carried out. Acknowledging the existence of domestic violence will be the first step toward eradicating the problem. The campaigns are expected to start with basic gender related concepts and gradually developed to include domestic violence and other forms of GBV. Since at the moment several agencies are working on raising awareness on trafficking, throughout the countrywide campaign focus will be given to domestic violence. Campaigns will contain:

    · Official launching of the campaign with celebrities;
    · Competition for campaign materials for young journalists and artists;
    · TV clips on gender, gender sensitivity, gender discrimination, human rights and women’s rights, gender-based violence;
    · Use of newspapers radio and other media (TV and radio programmes) etc.

Support and protection of victims
Elaboration of mechanisms for support and protection of the victims of violence is always on the agenda of the Government. The Draft Law on Fight against domestic violence of the Republic of Azerbaijan envisages protection order for the victims of domestic violence. But still, this is one of those areas we need to learn international experience.
At the first stage of the implementation of the Project “XXI century without violence against women” two Family Support centres (under the State Committee for Family, Women and Children Affairs of the Republic of Azerbaijan) are envisaged to be restructured to the rehabilitation centres for victims of violence. The staff of the centres will also be retrained for relevant services.
Specialized training programmes will be prepared for various groups such as service providers, public officials, law enforcement officials and NGO members within the framework of the cooperation with UN Population Fund. All programmes will include basic information on gender, gender equality, gender-based violence and communication skills. Apart from basic knowledge about above-mentioned subjects, every training programme will focus on specific issues, according to the speciality of the group.
Examples of service models include hotlines, police services, centre for gender based violence victims, counselling centres, shelters for GBV victims, legal advice services at local level.

Assessment of the impact of the Council of Europe Campaign

The Task Force will partly base its assessment of the impact of the Council of Europe Campaign to combat Violence against Women, including Domestic Violence on the following indicators. Please respond by ticking on the boxes.

    1. Is any and every act of violence against women criminalised in your country?

    YES X NO q

There is no special provision in the Criminal Code of the Republic of Azerbaijan criminalizing violence against women. The Article 132 (Battering) envisages punishment for deliberate causing battering or causing a physical pain by other violent actions. The Article 108 (Sexual violence) of the Code envisages punishment for rape, compulsion to prostitution, compulsory sterilization or commitment against persons of other actions connected with sexual violence.

2. Is violence committed by a partner or former partner punished more severely than violence among strangers (eg. gender based violence as such or the abuse of power will be considered an aggravating circumstance)?

    YES q NO X

3. Are victims enabled to seek justice in a human manner (eg. specialised courts on domestic violence, specialised units within the police, the public prosecutor or the judiciary)?

    YES q NO X

4. Does a national emergency 24/7 help-line exist free of charge for victims of domestic violence in your country?

    YES q NO X

5. Have safe shelters been set up for victims of domestic violence in an adequate ratio in your member state? 1

    YES q NO X

6. Is administrative data being collected on victims of domestic violence?

    YES q NO X

7. Is domestic violence considered as a human rights violation to be addressed in your legal system?

    YES q NO X

Note 1 The Blueprint of the Council of Europe Campaign recommends a ratio for one place in a woman’s shelter per 7.500 inhabitants.