Samira Agayeva believes that the existing legislative framework in Azerbaijan is sufficient to prevent femicide and domestic violence, but the application of these laws in practice leaves much to be desired.
“If all laws in Azerbaijan worked and were brought in line with international conventions, killings of women could certainly be prevented. It’s just that these laws should work,” the lawyer says.
Azerbaijan has been a member of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) since 1995. In accordance with commitments it undertook, Azerbaijan reports to this body on gender-based violence every four years. The last hearing on Azerbaijan took place on 18 February 2015. A package document of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women was adopted, titled “Concluding recommendations and observations on Azerbaijan”. One of the recommendations in the document was about joining the Istanbul Convention.
The 20 October protesters also demanded that Azerbaijan sign the “Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence”, known as the Istanbul Convention.
As soon as 21 October, the Azerbaijani Committee for Family, Women and Children’s Problems said that it had submitted to the government a package of proposals in connection with the signing of the Istanbul Convention.
“If Azerbaijan ratifies the Istanbul convention, women will be able to talk about their problems and claim their rights in the international arena,” Samira Agayeva says.
The Azerbaijani government, however, is in no hurry to ratify the convention, although it does declare that it is “very interested” in signing it.
The document, known as the Istanbul Convention, was signed in 2011 in Turkey. Thirty-four of the 47 EU countries have already ratified the document. Only Russia and Azerbaijan have not signed it, and Bulgaria has found that the convention is not in line with its constitution.
In a situation where the larger society is silent and laws do not offer protection, it is women that can save themselves.
“I would say that, first of all, women themselves should change their attitude to this issue,” Shahla Ismayil says. “They should educate themselves, they must receive education, despite absolutely all obstacles, because without education they will not be able to stand firmly on their feet, nor will they be able to resist violence, be it in their family, at their workplace, or in society.”
With the support of the Russian Language News Exchange