Victim-blaming—shifting blame onto the victim.
The shocking news that the former Minister of National Economy, Kuandyk Bishimbayev, is suspected of murdering his wife, Saltanat Nukenova, has deeply shaken the entire country. For over a week, domestic violence has been the primary topic dominating the public sphere. A petition immediately surfaced, urging stricter punishment for domestic violence in Kazakhstan, garnering over 100,000 signatures from Kazakhstani citizens. The President of the country responded to this matter. Kassym-Jomart Tokayev held consultations with law enforcement leaders, instructing the Ministry of Internal Affairs to keep a special watch on the case.
Nevertheless, Kazakhstani citizens continue the practice of victim-blaming. The situation, where victims are blamed in cases of assault, abuse, or murder, is a frequent occurrence, even from law enforcement agencies. In social media comments, men are convinced that it's acceptable to physically discipline their wives for "preventative purposes." Sarbaz.kz has discussed this with a psychologist and expert on abusive relationships, Azhar Kanaeva.
Photo: from the personal archive of A. Kanaeva
-"Azhar, in your opinion, why does domestic abuse appear so widespread in Kazakhstan? If we list the publicized events, there are quite a few. I recall incidents where men assaulted their wives in elevators, others inflicting multiple stab wounds and cases of fatal beatings."
"Domestic violence in Kazakhstan originates within the family and upbringing. After the Second World War, there emerged a cult of masculinity. Boys were highly anticipated and celebrated as heirs, while girls were raised as servants to men. Another critical factor contributing to the formation of domestic abusers is personality disorders, specifically, let's talk about narcissistic personality disorder. These individuals believe in their own uniqueness, superiority over others, grandiosity, expecting unconditional positive treatment and unquestionable obedience from those around them. Narcissistic personalities consistently attempt to control others' opinions about themselves. They tend to devalue almost everything around them, idealising only what they associate with themselves.
Narcissistic personality disorders can be innate or acquired. In early childhood, it can be acquired through:
People with these personality disorders are always violent towards those closest to them.
- "Why, in your opinion, do many men in Kazakhstan believe that from time to time it's necessary to 'physically discipline women for preventative purposes'?"
"Children who witnessed violence against women in their childhood and were themselves victims of parental violence grow up seeing this as normal. These children are more likely to use violence in their own families. Violence breeds violence, and violence multiplies in our children."
"In arguments, in publications, in social media comments, men cite reasons for hitting their spouses. According to them, the woman did something, pushed them, publicly humiliated them, and much more. How should men act in such situations to avoid hitting women?"
"It's simply horrific and utterly inappropriate. Men who hit their wives for some transgression completely misunderstand their role in society, treating women as possessions or animals. A woman is primarily a partner, and it should be understood that the roles of men and women in society have long been equal. Both men and women need to abandon the idea that they can change someone. No one can change or raise anyone after marriage. Spouses were raised by their parents, and that's long finished. They must accept and love each other as they are. And if something isn't right, they should calmly discuss what doesn't sit well."
"Another important point that needs to be instilled in society is the fact that it's impossible to push someone to violence. Violence is illegal, period. To provoke a state of agitation, a direct threat to life is necessary. Everything else, by law, will be considered an attack on a woman, not self-defense, for instance."
- "Your recommendations for dealing with anger?"
"Men and women need to learn to talk and resolve disputes without insults, humiliations, criticism, or devaluation. If, for any reason, they cannot do it themselves, they should seek help from specialists—psychologists and therapists. Every person—man or woman—has the right to make mistakes. Either the partner understands and accepts it, or it's time to part ways. Violence has never made anyone better or taught anything. It's crucial to always remember this."
- "I thank you for the conversation and recommendations."