The Norwegian Helsinki Committee

Source: The Norwegian Helsinki Committee

Caption: The Norwegian Helsinki Committee

Norwegian Helsinki Committee: Domestic violence endangers women in Azerbaijan

The Norwegian Helsinki Committee: Growing domestic violence endangers women’s lives in Azerbaijan

A recent report published by the Norwegian Helsinki Committee (NHC) with the support of Azerbaijan’s leading activists in 2020 urges the Azerbaijani authorities to take urgent steps to fulfill its international obligations on domestic violence. The report exposed “serious gaps in the authorities’ response to domestic violence, including inadequate enforcement of existing legislation, and a failure to hold abusers accountable and ensure access to justice for survivors”.

According to Azerbaijan’s State Statistical Committee, at least 1,180 cases of domestic violence against women were reported in 2020, but Azerbaijani activists claim that the real number is much higher, “as social stigma, family rejection, economic dependence on abusers, and lack of awareness prevent women from reporting abuse and getting help. State policies aimed at keeping the family 'intact' make it more difficult for women to escape violence”.

It is also stated in the report that the government-provided resources for survivors of domestic violence are limited and there are few spaces available in the shelters where the survivors can seek refuge. It has been said that domestic violence survivors are basically left on their own and the government needs drastic changes such as signing the Istanbul Convention, amending the national legislation, reducing incidence of violence, increasing reporting, establishing multiple crisis centers and shelters for female victims of domestic violence, especially in the rural and remote areas, ensuring access of women to social services, and improving the capacity of the criminal justice system to prosecute violence against women.

The Law on Prevention of Domestic Violence in Azerbaijan was adopted in 2010, but the action plan was approved until November 2020. According to the NHC, if the government does not act to tackle the situation, it will only continue to put women's lives at risk and leave victims to face abuse on their own.

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