ҚЫЗ ТАҒДЫРЫ:

HER FUTURE IS OUR FUTURE

Project created for each girl and woman about her health and gender rights.

Adolescent health

«Teenagers should know how to prevent an unintended pregnancy»

Nadia is a young girl who gave birth to a child out of wedlock. The family wanted her to have an abortion, so Nadia chose to settle in “Mother’s House” in Nur-Sultan.

Nadia (the name has been changed), 20 years old: “When I realized that I was pregnant, I told my family that I would have an abortion, as they wanted. I ended up not coming back to my own village for five months. There it is inconceivable that a woman would have a baby without a husband."

Mother’s House is a social welfare institution where women whose families turned away from them can live while they are unable to provide for themselves and their child.

Unfortunately, Nadia's story is familiar to Kazakhstan’s many young girls who became pregnant outside of marriage. The adolescent birth rate is about 25 births for every 1,000 girls aged 15 to 19 years. The number of teenage pregnancies is even higher.

Watch the videо of psychotherapist Zhibek Zholdasova, where she talks about the issues of fertility in Kazakhstan and the psychological state of citizens.

Nadia: “I started dating a guy three years ago, when I was 17 and he was 20. A few months after that, my mother passed away and I found support in him at that difficult time. We helped each other: when he moved to Astana, he did not have a stable income and I helped him financially. Soon things went well for him, but as soon as he found out that I was pregnant, he left and married another girl."

Nadia also has a brother and two sisters. Her father was rarely present in her life, but he regularly sent money to support.

Nadia: “I’m sure if my mother was alive, I wouldn’t be here. She simply wouldn't allow it. I am happy that I have a daughter, I have someone to come to, smell my baby and feed her. I don’t have any regrets that I’ve chosen to give birth."

Nadia's brother is 14 years older than her. He doesn't want to even hear about his sister.

Nadia: “To him, I am a person who’d brought dishonor upon the family. After all, I come from a small village near Astana, 40-minute drive from the city center. There, rumors spread very quickly."

— What could have helped you avoid such a situation?

— When I was a teenager, many of my classmates had already had sex. They were just kids, only 15 or 16 years old. In retrospect, now I understand that teenagers just don’t know any better, they may be making mistakes that they will later regret.”

— What advice can you give to others?

— I think parents should talk to their children about sex. I believe that in biology lessons, children should learn about their bodies. Schools should provide for extracurricular activities and conversations with psychologists, if needed. In addition, boys and girls must share responsibility for the consequences of unprotected sex. Currently, girls are paying a higher price.

Expert’s opinion

Contrary to popular belief, comprehensive and age-appropriate sexuality education that starts in schools does not lead to teenagers having earlier sex. Test-runs of UNFPA-developed sexuality education course in various regions of Kazakhstan has shown that teenagers who had taken the course tend to postpone their first sex, are equipped with better knowledge about sexually-transmitted infections, know how to resist pressure and cultivate other positive habits.

Dina Teltayeva, UNFPA Public Relations Specialist in Kazakhstan: “When a young girl has an unplanned pregnancy or a young guy contracts a sexually-transmitted infection, it means that adults have failed these teenagers. They are basically children who, if they could, would have loved to turn to adults for advice and help. Comprehensive sexuality education teaches some of the most important skills, such as how to avoid a pregnancy until you’re ready; how to protect yourself from sexually transmitted infections, including HIV; how to recognize and know how to respond to abuse; how to enjoy healthy and equal relationships; how to be resilient during stress and realize your full potential and many other things.”

Recent surveys conducted by UNFPA have shown that around a third of teenagers in Kazakhstan are sexually active. 14.8% of adolescents who had indicated being sexually active said that they’d had at least one symptom of a sexually transmitted infection over the past year. However, over 60% of them hadn’t sought any medical help to have their infections treated. 22% of girls who said that they had been sexually active had an abortion.

Another study shows that there is a fairly large group of adolescents in Kazakhstan aged 15-19 who would like to learn more about contraception to avoid an unplanned pregnancy. They say they would like to learn about ways to maintain their reproductive health.

Anonymous teenager: “Why are we studying geometry, algebra and other subjects, while ignoring psychology and family planning? It could give us more knowledge about real life. "

Nadia’s future

Nadia: “I want to be with my daughter as long as possible. I don't know how long I can stay at Mother’s House. The father of my child wants to reconnect , but I want to close this chapter of my life and move on. I know the importance of a father's love, which my daughter won’t get, so I will do everything to fill that void."

Naturally, Nadia's life is now driven by the needs of her child, but through partnership with the various companies Mother’s House helped Nadia find an office job in a construction company in Astana.

Nadia: “I hope that I'll have an opportunity to use the knowledge I got in college in the hospitality business. And I hope it will help me provide for myself and my daughter."

Family planning

Family planning allows people to have the desired number of children and determine timing and spacing between births. The main family planning tools include use of contraceptive methods and fertility treatment.

Why is family planning important?

1. It allows women to stay healthy

Modern contraceptive methods allow women to avoid pregnancy too early, too late, or too often. For example, if a woman has recently given birth and uses contraception, she has the opportunity to recover her health, engage in self-development, bring up and give the necessary attention to her family and children.

2. It contributes to the social and economic development of the country

In developed countries, the use of contraception replaces abortion and does not reduce the birth rate, whereas in countries with low or declining level of economic development, the birth rate decreases and the number of abortions increases.

High teenage pregnancy rates also serve as an indicator of the country's poverty level. The lower this indicator, the more chances young people have to get a good education and become competitive in the labor market.

3. It reduces the number of abortions

In Kazakhstan, 71% of sexually active women aged 15-19 do not use any methods of contraception. This impacts a high rate of unintended pregnancies and childbirth. Affordable modern contraceptives reduce the total number of abortions, including unsafe ones, which affect mortality and contribute to adverse dynamics of reproductive loss.

According to the results of Kazakhstani economic studies, the cost of contraceptives is 10 times less than the cost of the consequences of unintended pregnancy, abortion, treatment of for reproductive tract infections, infertility, and maternal mortality.

4. It helps prevent sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including HIV

In Kazakhstan, 62% of HIV cases are transmitted sexually and two-thirds of young people aged 15-24 do not know about the ways of its transmission.

Barrier contraception (condoms, vaginal pills and suppositories) helps to avoid infection not only with HIV, but with other STIs as well. Moreover, it helps to reduce the number of pelvic inflammatory processes leading to adverse reproductive consequences such as premature birth, miscarriages, stillbirths or infertility.

5. It is a part of the women empowerment

When women and couples are able to plan a pregnancy, women have more opportunities to complete their education, become more independent and earn money. This enhances their economic security and the well-being of their families.

For everyone who plans to have a baby, we recommend the Delivery record for pregnant and postpartum women.

Gender-based violence

Nagima, 23 years, Aktobe:

I had a good acquaintance whom I had known for six months. He seemed to be a very well-mannered, mature and educated person, who also used to serve in the police. I kept in touch with him, but there was nothing else between us.

One day he came to my house and called me saying that he needed to talk to me urgently. I trusted him, so I went out and got into his car without any second-thoughts, where we talked for 10 minutes. Suddenly his face changed.

He drove to a nearby street, which was empty and dark, and sexually abused me.

I asked him to stop him for the sake of God and my mother, but it didn’t help. I threatened him with court, but he didn’t hear. When he was done, I wanted to commit suicide, but he hit me to bring me to senses.

I had never been with a man before. He dishonored me.

Evidence, challenges, courts

I went to a hospital and then to an expert who confirmed the violation of sexual integrity. I guessed that there was a break, because I felt acute pain and bleeding.

When I heard this, I ceased living and existing. I screamed. I had no tears, only a cry. That was when I lost my faith in men.

I kept thinking about it and was afraid that I got pregnant from him. The next day I told my mother about it. She could not accept the news right away: she became very stressed but soon my mother realized what had actually happened. After all, she had worked in gynecology for 20 years and knew that I was a virgin.

I had other plans for life and an old-fashioned view of the world. I always said that I was born at the wrong time. Nowadays men are not interested in the fact that you keep yourself for your husband.

But I learned the injustice of life very early. He knew I was a virgin and how important it was to me, but he did it to me anyway. Destroyed my life on purpose.

Then I got in touch with the public fund "Don't be silent" and told my story to Dina Tansari, a human rights activist. At first I had no difficulties. The police supported me, even though there were young men there. Nobody asked me to take back the report.

The trial took place. Before the trial, the rapist and his mother came to my house and offered large sums of money. They claimed it was a voluntary act. The examination showed that the beatings had been inflicted by male hands and I could not have bruised my buttocks and back - I would not have reached them.

His mother called Dina and said that her boy was the best and he was well brought up. Was I not raised well or did I deserve it?

But I decided to go all the way. Dina supported me. In the court of first instance, I was without a lawyer, because my mother could not afford the costs. I didn’t have a job, because I had just graduated with a law degree and was about to take exams to a governmental academy, but because of this situation I did not make it in time.

He ruined my career too.

In the corridor, a prosecutor came up to me and asked: "Have you had sexual intercourse before him?" She didn’t even read my case where it was mentioned that I had my first sexual contact with him.

The offender hired a skilled lawyer who put pressure on me and asked about my upbringing, hinted that I grew up without a father and I was never taught that I should not go out alone at night. The lawyer asked how I behaved and what I was wearing.

That day I was wearing a coat, a sweater, a skirt and tights, because it was October.

My acquaintance claimed that I dressed immodestly, although it was false. He accused me of going to karaoke with my friends, and the lawyer blamed me for going out to a man at night. The judge was also not on my side.

The offender presented his character reference, collected people's reviews, certificates of his mother's disability, and no one believed me. I could barely stay on my feet.

I asked for a challenge (i.e., removal from case) of the prosecutor, because she did not study my case and could not handle it. I had no experience in court, but I was able to write a statement of challenge.

After the trial, Dina called me. She took action by publishing a post looking for a lawyer for me. And she said that Kazakhstani courts do not show due empathy for victims of sexual violence. Some of us are facing pressure from the police or participants of court proceedings.

I wanted to punish the culprit who believed that he could take and destroy someone else's life.

Victims of violence must not be weak, otherwise they will be crushed. Many of them think that the issue of violence is in them. I even went to a mosque to understand why this had happened to me.

How to live on?

Because of this experience, I have become afraid of men. I am not ready for family life and I need psychological help and I still cannot find the strength to get closer to a man.

Once he bought me juice, and when I see this juice in stores, nausea comes to my throat. I have to let go of the situation, but first I need to punish him.

Earlier, when I heard about rape, I used to look for reasons. I thought that it would never happen to me, but now I understand all the girls and even children. No matter how a girl or a woman behaves, you cannot do anything against her will.

From 2016 to 2018, I underwent treatment for a serious illness and received chemotherapy. Fortunately, the disease receded, but literally a year later I was raped. Life is a fight. Women, despite being the weaker sex, are very strong. Never let anyone hurt or blame you.

Mothers should raise their sons properly. Judges and the police need to do their jobs and deal with cases of violence. Otherwise, it turns out that a woman cannot sit with a person she knows in a car at 10 o'clock in the evening, but a man can rape a girl!

I need to live on and I'm not ashamed of what happened. A different person has woken up in me.

Losing innocence in this way is like losing a loved one. I don’t know what happens to children who experience violence in their childhood. I think parents should support their children, talk to them about various dangers. After all, any person may face violence.

Public opinion

Views in Aktobe are different compared to other regions. People of our city are sharp, straightforward and tough who react to everything vigorously.

My case was published in the social media group of our city. The women supported me, but there were also understanding men, although they mostly blamed me, of course. Dina warned me not to read such comments because it was additional stress.

Punishing the offender

My acquaintance probably counted on the old law and early release, but I didn’t go for money and I didn’t buy into his lawyer. I got him in jail for 2.5 years and he paid 2 million tenge compensation for emotional distress.

I didn’t need his money, but the lawyer advised me to do it so that he wouldn't be able to apply for parole. He filed an appeal, but lost. 2.5 years is not enough, but I am glad that he was convicted in some way.

Conclusion

The Court of Appeal was held in the winter of 2020. And according to the victim, the offender is in a pre-trial detention center because he cannot be transported to a separate prison facility for former police officers.

Comments from Dina Tansari

Nagima was glad that the rapist went to jail, because the imprisonment terms for crimes against sexual inviolability were short until 2020. If the suspect admits guilt, the term is reduced to 2.5 years. That’s what happened in this case.

We were afraid that it would be an acquittal or a probation, because there were some issues in court. Nagima was even reproached for the fact that she and the suspect had met in a nightclub, even though she was there for a birthday party.

Although all the evidence was there, fear of the court can still occur because of legal illiteracy and emotional turmoil. Therefore, women are happy with any sentences, well, what can we do?

Memo on the action algorithm for domestic violence victims

Equal opportunities

Why do we discuss gender equality?

Just think about it: of 189 economies assessed in 2018, 104 economies still have laws preventing women from working in specific jobs – be politicians, hold high positions and run businesses. Meaning that over 2.7 billion women are legally restricted from having the same choice of jobs as men.

For example, in the Middle East and parts of North Africa, women have only half of the legal rights that men are entitled to. Globally, this figure is 75 percent.

59 economies have no laws on sexual harassment in the workplace, and in 18 economies, husbands can legally prevent their wives from working. And all this is happening in the 21st century, when it would seem that we hear about the empowerment of women from all corners of the planet. That is why we have to talk about gender equality: women have the right to live with dignity and free from want and fear.

Gender equality means that women and men enjoy the same opportunities, rights and obligations in all spheres of life. It means that they are equally represented in leadership and political positions, financially independent, have access to education and fulfill their personal ambitions.

By addressing this topic today, we are making a precondition for reducing poverty: a woman whose rights are fully realized can create a healthy and strong family, raise literate and educated children.

What does «gender equality» mean in real life?

Reproductive health

The right to decide whether you want children or not, their number, timing and spacing is one of the reproductive rights essential to ensuring women's freedom and empowerment. When a woman can plan her family, she can plan her life. Therefore, we discuss how important it is to control your own reproductive function.

According to the Program of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) (1994), maternal health is based on “three pillars”: human rights, empowerment of women, and gender equality. In order to ensure maternal health, it is particularly important to provide for access to reproductive health services (family planning, prevention and treatment of STIs and HIV, etc.), universal education, and the promotion of child health and survival.

Collectively, complications of pregnancy or childbirth are one of the leading causes of death among women of reproductive age. Therefore, we discuss physiological and social reasons making women more vulnerable than men to reproductive health problems.

Failure to provide information, services and conditions to help women protect their reproductive health constitutes gender-based discrimination and is a violation of women’s rights to health and life.

Economic empowerment

Women and girls make up 50% of the economic, social and political capital of countries. Research proves that investing in girls and women is not only right from a human rights perspective, but also is an effective investment benefiting the entire society. On average, women spend 90% of their wages on children and on the health, education and well-being of their entire family, creating a ripple effect in society.

Yet six out of 10 of the world’s poorest people are women. Economic disparities persist partly because much of the unpaid work within families and communities falls on the shoulders of women, and because women continue to face discrimination in the economic sphere.

A healthy and working woman can make a financial contribution to her family, be a consistent taxpayer and make a significant contribution to the development of her country. Economic empowerment of women increases productivity, economic diversification and income equality, in addition to other positive development results.

For example, raising women’s employment rate in OECD countries to the level of Sweden could increase GDP by over 6 trillion USD. Moreover, recent estimates by the World Bank show that gender inequality, as expressed in difference in earnings between men and women, translates into a loss of $ 23,620 USD per capita.

Educational empowerment

About two thirds of the world’s illiterate adults are women. Lack of education severely restricts women’s access to information and opportunities. Conversely, increasing women’s and girls’ educational attainment benefits both individuals and future generations. Higher levels of women's education are strongly associated with lower infant mortality and lower fertility, as well as better outcomes for their children.

Political empowerment

Many social and legal institutions still do not guarantee women equality in basic legal and human rights, in access to or control of resources, in employment or earnings, or in social or political participation. And men continue to occupy most positions of political and legal authority; globally, only 24 percent of parliamentarians are women. Gender equality cannot be achieved without the backing and enforcement of institutions.

Empowerment of women with disabilities

The reproductive health and rights of women and girls with disabilities are fundamental to their ability to reach their potential and determine their own future.

However, gaps still remain in the mechanisms for implementing their reproductive rights, providing access to quality health services, including sexual and reproductive health, family planning, health services, psychological and social support and law enforcement services for a comprehensive response and prevention of gender-based violence.

Today, regulatory legal acts contain discriminatory norms that restrict the rights and opportunities of women with disabilities to independently make decisions regarding the implementation of their reproductive rights. Meanwhile, universal human rights and universal health care means rights and health care for all without discrimination.

Girls and women with disabilities are more likely to experience violence than their male counterparts or girls and women without disabilities. Legal ignorance of a significant part of women with disabilities often makes them vulnerable to violence, abuse, deception and other crimes against the person.

Global research has shown that when girls and women with disabilities turn to law enforcement to report sexual harassment and other misconduct, they face barriers that are exacerbated by discrimination against disability. In the absence of significant government and public support, they rarely attain justice for violation of their rights.

There are no specialized psychological support services and a helpline with specialists who know how to work with people with various types of disabilities. And domestic violence prevention programs often fail to address the special needs of people with different types of disabilities.

UNFPA IN SOCIAL MEDIA

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED