Abstract: Factors Inhibiting Institutional Responses to Domestic Violence in Kyrgyzstan (Society for Social Work and Research 27th Annual Conference - Social Work Science and Complex Problems: Battling Inequities + Building Solutions)

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509P Factors Inhibiting Institutional Responses to Domestic Violence in Kyrgyzstan

Saturday, January 14, 2023
Phoenix C, 3rd Level (Sheraton Phoenix Downtown)
* noted as presenting author
Saltanat Childress, PhD, Assistant Professor, University of Texas-Arlington School of Social Work, Arlington, TX
Nibedita Shrestha, M.Phil, Graduate Teaching Assistant, University of Texas at Arlington, Arlington, TX
Mitchell Wong, MD PhD, Professor of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA
Rebecca Dudovitz, MD, Associate Professor, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA
Background and Purpose: The study identifies factors that limit effective institutional responses to domestic violence (DV) in Kyrgyzstan, in the context of recent legislative actions aimed at reducing violence through improvements in law enforcement, judicial processes, and provision of social services. Using the perspectives of professionals working in diverse sectors to mitigate instances of DV against women, the study aims to examine the gap between the intent of the recent legislation and the understanding of actual outcomes of violence prevention and associated policies.

Methods: The study uses qualitative, grounded theory research methods to analyze in-depth interviews and focus group discussions with 83 professionals working in law enforcement, judicial system, and social, health, educational sectors. Data was collected through twenty semi-structured interviews and 8 focus group discussions conducted in Russian and Kyrgyz. The interviews were recorded, transcribed verbatim, translated into English, and analyzed using Nvivo 12 qualitative computer software. To ensure the rigor of the study, analytic triangulation, and peer-debriefing were conducted and raw data were presented to explain the findings.

Results: Two major themes emerged from analysis of the interviews. The first theme concerns barriers to effective institutional responses from internal challenges and constraints in the law enforcement, judicial system, and social, health, and educational sectors. The theme includes 1) low morale and poor working conditions in law enforcement, 2) misalignment of responsibilities of law enforcement and courts, 3) scarcity of neighborhood police officers and female officers, 4) procedural limitations in the judicial system, 5) low pay and high staff turnover in social sectors and 6) negative stereotypes of DV victims within institutions. The second theme concerns the understandings of social resources and challenges identified as important to provide a better collective response to DV, and includes 1) lack of social awareness of DV and the potential of schools to educate around prevention and to provide services, 2) importance of non-state actors to provide services for prevention and response to DV, 3) a fragmented and under-resourced institutional approach with state and non-state actors at the local levels, and 4) corruption, nepotism, and a strategy of inaction by high-level state actors. The study highlights areas for improvement for effective implementation of the DV legislation passed in 2017 for the law enforcement, the judicial, and the social, health, and educational sectors. The major strength of this study is that it used grounded theory methods to analyze the professionals’ own words and experiences to understand the socio-cultural, structural, and legal factors limiting institutional response.

Conclusion and Implications: The study highlights the need for capacity development within institutions and broader social learning to overcome existing barriers and better align outcomes with the intentions of recent legislation. Standardized training and evaluation for professionals, national awareness-raising campaigns, enhanced roles for educators and religious leaders, better coordinated social service provision, rehabilitation for victims and perpetrators, and the introduction of school and family-centered interventions in response to DV are identified as targets for improving responsiveness.