In recent years, violence against women in the North Caucasus has been on the rise, while effectiveness of legal mechanisms to protect women has been steadily deteriorating. So-called “honour” crimes, including “honour” killings and all-encompassing violence against women increasingly permeate society at large.
Due to the lack of official statistics, prevalence rates are not available; estimates can only be elaborated on the basis of statements made by victims who approach human rights defenders. Underreporting is endemic, with family and society exerting pressure on victims to keep quite or reporting deliberate acts of violence as accidents.
Impunity is reinforced not only by inadequate or non-existing investigations but also by difficulties for women in having access to justice, due to lack of information, lack of financial means for taking a legal case before a court, and the fear of social isolation. The lack of popular demand for justice with respect to women is underscored by the overall tacit approval by the majority of continued violence against women.
This worrying trend unfolds against the background of an increasing Islamisation of society: polygamous marriages are on the rise, as well as bride kidnappings. As noted in Resolution 1738 (2010) on Legal remedies for human rights violations in the North Caucasus, “a rigid interpretation of religious norms is imposed, sometimes in a humiliating manner, which, moreover, seems to be at variance with the religious and cultural traditions in the region”.
The Parliamentary Assembly has adopted several texts on the issue of so-called “honour” crimes, such as Resolution 1681 (2009) on the urgent need to combat so-called “honour crimes”. The specificity of the situation in North Caucasus, however, justifies that the Assembly addresses the issue of so-called “honour crimes” in this specific region, with a view to making recommendations on how to prevent and combat this plight.