Women throughout Kazakhstan experience repression, discrimination, and significant gender inequity. Culturally, women in general are placed in a lower social status then men, and are often considered as property. This is especially apparent with the ever-increasing instances of bride abductions, rapes, and domestic violence. Kazakhstan has excellent laws ensuring gender equity and the protection of women; unfortunately these laws are rarely enforced. The police have a tendency to avoid involvement in rape and domestic violence situations referring to them as private, family matters. If a case is heard in court, the Judges and the court system rarely rule in favor of the victimized woman. In addition, as family relationships and social perception define not only the individual, but also the family as a whole – generally women are encouraged or even told by their families to remain in abusive situations, regardless of the level of abuse. Women are often left with little choice: either to remain in the abusive situation or leave the situation by severing all her social ties, family and community support. In addition, the women in Kazakhstan are often not financially independent due to lack of education, and therefore also unable to leave an abusive situation without additional support.
“Zheti-Agash” addresses these root causes by offering women the power of choice. We provide counseling, emotional support, and pro-social decision making skills. It is the best way to encourage women to make positive choices for themselves and their families – which may include making choices contrary to cultural and/or family norms. “Zheti-Agash” also supports women in developing financial independence through vocational rehabilitation training in the sewing workshop, encouraging pro-social life skills that are necessary to maintain employment. We encourage also women in the Halfway-House to return to school and provide incarcerated women with educational supplies. The women that “Zheti-Agash” helps have the power to inspire their families and other women. They have the potential to raise healthy families, without drugs, alcohol and domestic violence – encouraging their children to make pro-social decisions and respect women.