Moving beyond gender-Based Discrimination & Domestic violence in Kazakhstan

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Assel Akhmetova & Gaukhar Mambetalina

ATTITUDES TOWARD WHAT CONSTITUTES FAMILY CHANGES OVER TIME. The traditional definition of family comprising a mother, father, and children might seem as a relic of the past by many individuals, as there is a rise in families that consist of only one parent—most often a mother and children. Further, Westernized countries provide a possibility for women to choose to give birth and raise children without a partner. Thanks to the progress of in vitro fertilization in the industrialized world, it has become possible, particularly for independent and educated women with limited financial problems. Kazakhstan tells a slightly different story, in which heightened discrimination against single mothers and domestic violence persist. We, the authors, tell this story from our perspectives and positionality of Kazakh-born residents including a mother of three and a single mother of one.

In our country of Kazakhstan, a substantial number of women become single mothers after divorces. In 2018, Kazakhstan entered the top 10 countries for the number of divorces. Approximately every third family gets divorced, after which 90% of children remain with their mothers. Most of these women raise children themselves and do not remarry. According to the labor code, a single mother is a woman who is raising a child or children and is not officially married (Ministry of Information and Communication of the Republic of Kazakhstan, 2022). Thus, these individuals are considered single mothers, although there are no legally fixed statuses or systemwide benefits as a “single mother.”

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