“Zheti-Agash” provides services to help newly arrived prisoners to adjust to prison life, encouraging them to make positive choices and avoid further criminal activities. “Zheti-Agash” also offers support to prisoners, who are close to their release. We provide services through gender and culturally responsive counseling, life skills classes, positive coping skills development, social rehabilitation and integration support, special cultural activities, sports and music therapy. “Zheti-Agash” also provides counseling for any inmate that requests it – regardless of their length of tenure. In addition to the humanitarian services, “Zheti-Agash” distributes humanitarian aid for the people in prison, including incarcerated mothers and children. The aid generally consists in distributing much needed, basic hygiene products, medicine, infant supplies, educational supplies, clothing, and occasional treats and awards for special events. It is important to note that “Zheti-Agash” primarily focuses on working with women in the prison system. However, we also provide counseling and rehabilitative services for male and boy prisoners, with the hope to help break the cycle of violence and discrimination against women.
There are approximately 1,000 women, teenage girls and approximately 25 – 40 infants incarcerated in prison near Almaty, Kazakhstan.According to the Harm Reduction International report of 2012, there are 4,237 women incarcerated in Kazakhstani prisons.
As there are only four women prisons in the entire nation, incarcerated women are often placed far from their homes, forcing them to cut family ties. In a country with a strong culture of family ties and significance, women inmates have no choice but to lose their only emotional and psychological support, which leads to isolation, further emotional and psychological issues and difficulties in returning to their communities. The Kazakhstani prison system does not offer rehabilitative services. They do not provide life skills classes, pro-social decision making skills or drug and alcohol rehabilitation. They provide basic hygiene and daily living necessities, and are often unable to meet most medical needs. However, the prison system does operate one prison near Almaty for both men and women that incorporate a work-release program, enabling prisoners to maintain employment outside of the prison.According to the Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women, 68% of women inmates are incarcerated due to domestic violence charges in Kazakhstan. In most cases, their victims previously physically, emotionally and sexually abused these women.
“Zheti Agash” works with 35% of the Kazakhstan women’s prison population by providing services and humanitarian aid for the 1,000 women, who are placed in the prison near the city of Almaty. Around 20 – 40 of these women are mothers institutionalized with their children, up to three years old. Unfortunately, most of the incarcerated women are victims of extreme domestic violence. In fact, 68% of them are incarcerated for killing their male abusers. In addition, a large part of these women struggle with alcohol and/or drug abuse and dependency. Also, a significant percentage of women in the prison population were orphaned as children and have lived out the majority of their lives in unhealthy institutional settings.
In Almaty, the boys’ prison holds approximately 300 young men from Kazakhstan.
This prison holds about 300 adults both men and women. However, during the day they are allowed to leave for work but have to spend the night in the jail.
- We assist women, men and young people in each prison to build responsible and dignified lifes. We support them in adjusting to life in prison and prepare them for a life after release.
- We provide counseling, life skills training, as well as organizing sports and cultural events.