The Geneva Council, an independent news organization dedicated to promoting human rights and justice worldwide, condemns the ongoing and systematic violations of women’s rights in the Republic of Chechnya.
Numerous reports from reputable human rights organizations have brought to light the alarming and widespread violations endured by women in Chechnya. These violations range from domestic violence and murder to maternal rights abuses, persecution, ‘honour’ killings, and forced genital mutilation.
A significant study conducted by the Stichting Justice Initiative, a rights group working in Russia, highlighted the taboo nature of ‘honour’ killings in the North Caucasus, often considered a private family matter. This research revealed that between 2012 and 2017, nine documented instances of honour killings occurred in Chechnya.
Furthermore, a study by the Russia-based Crew Against Torture, spanning from 2009 to 2020, reported a total of 58 similar cases involving 73 victims. These statistics underscore the grave nature of the issue.
Women fleeing their homes in search of assistance from human rights organizations face dire consequences. Many of them are forcibly returned to Chechnya, often with the active involvement of local and Chechen law enforcement agencies.
One recent case exemplifies this alarming trend. In late August, Seda Suleymanova fled Chechnya out of fear for her life, only to be reportedly abducted from her place of refuge in Saint Petersburg and detained on theft charges in Grozny. While Chechen Human Rights Commissioner Mansur Soltayev claimed Suleymanova was safe, civil rights activists raised concerns about her safety within Chechnya.
Elsa Musayeva’s case parallels this troubling pattern. She was kidnapped from Sterlitamak, western Russia, in July after seeking refuge with human rights activists. Musayeva later recorded a video in Chechnya, pleading with human rights activists to cease their search for her.
In addition to these immediate threats, women in Chechnya also face difficulties in gaining custody of or access to their children following divorce, as local customs dictate that children typically remain with the father and his family.
The ‘Motherless Caucasus’ project conducted research revealing that 80% of women in the North Caucasus were aware of this tradition, with 17% having personally faced the risk of losing custody of their children.
A survey conducted in 2014 on violations of women’s rights in the North Caucasus further corroborated the severity of the issue. Shockingly, 92.8% of women in Chechnya personally knew women who were regularly subjected to spousal abuse. The survey also highlighted that in 87% of cases where women reported domestic violence, law enforcement authorities refused to initiate criminal proceedings.
The Geneva Council urges the international community to take decisive action in addressing these grave human rights violations. We call upon governments, international organizations, and concerned citizens to pressure the Chechen authorities to put an end to these violations and hold perpetrators accountable.