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Kyrgyz Police Chief in Hot Water for Victim-blaming in Teen Rapes

BISHKEK — The police chief in the Kyrgyz capital has caused outrage after he blamed underage rape victims for what he called “willingly” getting involved with their potential abusers.

“The girls themselves get acquainted with certain people, willingly sleep with them, and then we have these kinds of situations in hand as the result,” said Azamat Nogoibaev on a live broadcast on March 31.

Referring to a recent rape case involving a 13-year-old girl, Nogoibaev claimed “the girl wanted to get married, but since she was a minor, this was the outcome.”

Nogoibaev’s remarks were met with widespread condemnation, protests, and calls for his resignation. One activist said his comments simply “gave a green light” for men to commit rape.

A group of protesters — including parents and activists — gathered in front of the city police headquarters in Bishkek this week, urging President Sadyr Japarov and Interior Minister Ulan Niyazbekov to fire Nogoibaev in order to restore public trust in police.

“Shame on Nogoibaev! Shame on child abusers! Shame on everyone who supports child abusers!” the protesters chanted.

“I have daughters, too, and I’m worried about their safety,” protester Azamat Amanturov told RFE/RL. “I cannot be with them 24 hours a day. After those comments by a police officer who was supposed to be protecting people, how can we trust the police and the government?”

“There is no justification for raping a child,” he said.

Nogoibaev has since apologized for the comments but didn’t say whether he planned to resign. The Interior Ministry said it has opened a probe into the police chief’s comments.

Last year, Kyrgyz prosecutors opened an investigation against two Bishkek policemen and a forensic expert after a teenage rape victim committed suicide.

The victim, who was an orphan, told police she was raped by a 21-year-old man in late 2021. But police didn’t take the suspect into custody, reportedly saying the girl had confirmed during interrogation that it was consensual sex, although she was only 13 years old.

The teenager killed herself several months later.

Prosecutors say the officers falsified the victim’s testimony. The officers and the suspect have since been taken into custody and a probe is ongoing.

The Prosecutor-General’s Office said 438 criminal cases were opened in 2022 involving the suspected rape of minors.

According to the National Statistics Committee, 3,034 cases of crimes against children were recorded in the Central Asian country in 2021. Some 500 of them involved sexual abuse, the committee said.

In August 2022, Kyrgyzstan adopted a law that introduced tougher punishment for child abuse. It extended prison terms and increased penalties for those found guilty of crimes against children.

Source: Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty