Thursday, 30 October 2008

Azerbaijan: Sexual violence

Universal Periodic Review, UN Human Rights

International organizations working in Azerbaijan conducted large-scale surveys on the issue of violence. The surveys found that about 30% of women experienced sexual harassment at work.[1] Another survey revealed that the social belief is that women should to quit their job if they experience sexual harassment from their employer or co-worker.[2] Articles 2 and 3 of the existing law on ‘Ensuring gender equality’ (2006) define sexual harassment in detail, article 4 states that sexual harassment is prohibited. Articles 11 and 12 regulate employment situations when sexual harassment has taken place and ban persecution of the person who reported sexual harassment by the employer. Article 12 states that the ‘labor contract of the victim of sexual harassment is discontinued as of the day when the victim applies for it’.[3] The body responsible for dealing with sexual harassment has monitoring nature and reports to the government annually. The existence of the legislation does not ensure protection from sexual harassment because mechanisms of its implementation and unclear and public is largely unaware of its existence.

Sexual harassment also exists within families with survey results indicating that out of 55% of the interviewed women who experienced sexual harassment, for 15% it came from step-father and 9% from father-in-law. The same survey indicated that 10% of the interviewed women were sexually abused with approximately 85% of abused women reporting marital rape.[4] Reportedly 99% of married women interviewed for another reproductive health survey were virgins at marriage and 98% had only one sexual partner.[5]

In case of rape the family usually tries to cover up that it happened and may offer the woman to marry the perpetrator if she is not married. Reporting a rape is also a long and humiliating endeavor in a society which blames the woman for being sexually abused. High level of corruption among law enforcement agencies makes it very difficult to punish the perpetrators.

- Research the situation in Azeri society in relation to sexual harassment
- Take measures to implement the existing legislation provisions
- Conduct public awareness campaigns to address the issue of sexual harassment and existing legal framework to address it
- Include marital rape in legislation and raise public awareness about the issue of consent in sexual relations

UPR report on Sexual and Reproductive Rights in Azerbaijan (via GenderStan)

[1] Survey of Azerbaijan Sociological Association (2001) quoted in Gender Assessment report p.8
[2] Human Development Report p. 71
[3] Text of the Law in Russian available at (accessed 3 September 2008)
[4] Survey of Azerbaijan Sociological Association (2001) quoted in Gender Assessment Report p. 8
[5] Gender Assessment Report p. 15

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