Human rights defender


ThemeWomen rightsCountryKyrgyzstan

Guliaim is a women’s rights activist from Kyrgyzstan and chair of the ‘Bishkek Feminist Initiatives’, the first feminist organisation in Kyrgyzstan fully committed to an equal position for women and girls in the Kyrgyz society.

Guliaim is 37 years old and joined the organisation in 2013. In her work she focuses on women empowerment and raising awareness among women and girls on their rights, including their sexual and reproductive rights. She often uses (social) media to raise awareness and thinks of creative ways to spread the message of the organisation, for instance, through a cartoon for girls. Most Kyrgyz citizens, however, know Guliaim and her organisation as the ‘women who march’, as the organisation organises an annual protest march in the country’s capital on International Women’s Day (8 March).

About Guliaim

Human rights violations in Kyrgyzstan

When it comes to equal rights for women and girls, there is still much ground to cover in Kyrgyzstan. (Domestic) violence against women is rampant and impunity for these crimes is still the norm.[1] Certain practices, like the kidnapping of women and girls as brides, also still take place.[2] Moreover, the political situation in Kyrgyzstan is currently very unstable. In 2020, the parliamentary elections led to protests, a political crisis and the resignation of the country’s president.[3]

Threats and challenges

Guliaim’s efforts to promote the rights of women and girls are met with a lot of resistance from segments of the society and government alike. During the women’s march in 2020, Guliaim and the other participants were attacked by a group of unknown men. Instead of detaining the attackers, the police arrested more than seventy participants of the march. Furthermore, the organisation’s ‘Feminnale exhibition’ was also targeted in the past and the organisation often receives online threats.

[1] Human Rights Watch, World report 2021: Kyrgyzstan (2021) and Radio Free Europe/ Radio Free Liberty, Kyrgyz Protest Violence Against Women After Acquittals In Rape Of Schoolgirl (2020)

[2] Human Rights Watch, Kyrgyzstan: pressure builds to protect women and girls (2019)

[3] Human Rights Watch, World report 2021: Kyrgyzstan (2021)

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