Are unemployment and price hikes the reason for increased crime rates?
“Some 5-6 months ago, I suspected that Elnara had an affair with a guy named Azer. I saw it in my dream. So, I thought that once it appeared in my dream, there certainly was something between them. Those suspicions cooled off the feelings to my wife, we started quarreling quite frequently. Then I couldn’t stand that and I killed her.
All the aforesaid is not a horror movie script, it’s a story of a murder committed in Baku’s Pirallahi settlement. Aydin Mamedov, who was under the influence of alcohol, suddenly recalled his dream and killed his wife with particular cruelty. Baku Court of Grave Crimes sentenced him to 17 years in prison. The Appeals Court upheld the ruling.
There is no drop in the ‘female homicide’ rates in Baku. On the contrary, it is growing day by day. And the reasons are getting more strange: she was unfaithful in the dream; she didn’t answer a phone call once; she wanted to visit her parents, she complained that it was cold in the house.
In Fizuli, Zohrab Gyanjevi cut his wife Vusalya Asadova’s throat for that very reason. Vusalya said, it was cold in the house, the children were freezing, but her husband didn’t like her complaints and he killed her. It happened on January 6 this year. 4 more women were murdered within the first week of this year alone.
Since the year hasn’t ended yet, the official statistics on female homicide is not available so far. However, as «Təmiz dünya» (Clean World) Aid to Women Public Union reported referring to the officially confirmed cases published in press, there are more such cases than last year and they are characterized by particular brutality. For example, a shocking case when a husband cut off his pregnant wife’s head in front of three children.
NGOs and Mass Media responded to such reports, a campaign under the slogan ‘Stop killing women’ was launched on social media. Mehriban Zeynalova, an initiator of the campaign and the Chair of the ‘Clean World’ Aid to Women Public Union, enlisted the problems that make Azerbaijani women more vulnerable to ‘domestic crime’: intensification of patriarchal stereotypes, economic dependence and women’s subordinate status in the community, officials’ disregard for complaints of domestic violence, inactivity of welfare institutions, early marriages etc.
How much is the justice?
Mehriban khanum says, the police oftentimes investigate such murders in a ‘’slipshod manner’: “The parents of Sabina Verdiyeva, who was killed by her husband, appealed to us. They fear, the murder case won’t be investigated properly.
Sabina’s father, Mazahir Jabbarov, said that his daughter was killed with particular cruelty, with a blunt object and a knife. Stab wounds were found on the woman’s body.
In the father’s words, his daughter was battered by her husband, mother-in-law and father- in-law 5 times over the past year. She was returned to her parental home, but because she was pregnanat and had three children, she was sent back to her husband. “The woman was killed on the same day. Regrettably, we couldn’t find a lawyer without charge for the murder victim’s family. They themselves cannot afford covering attorney’s costs, says Zeynalov.
Thus, in addition to that very problem of increased cases of violence, there is another problem – courts are unable to provide free justice to Azerbaijani citizens.
The Criminal Code envisages 17-20 years of imprisonments for committing such crime. In light of recent developments, many people, including MP Elmira Akhundova, suggested reinstating capital punishment, which was abolished in Azerbaijan in 1998.
According to the Interior Ministry’s information, 422 cases of crime against women, triggered by jealousy or domestic conflicts, were reported in Azerbaijan within 6 months of 2016. 8 women were killed. Other offenses include: infliction of serious or medium bodily injuries, incitement to suicide etc.
Haji Zeynalov, a journalist who keeps track of female homicides, calculated that 5 women were killed in Baku in April alone. At least 25 women were killed this year in total. The murderers include ex-husbands, ex-lovers, ex-in-law, current husbands, brothers, neighbors.
Relying on its data, the ‘Clean World’ claims that the number of female homicide victims exceeds 100.
The official website of the State Committee on Crime Statistics doesn’t classify the crimes according to the victim’s gender or motive, therefore, it’s rather hard to track the dynamics. According to statistics, especially grave crime rates almost doubled since early 2000s and made 3,922 in 2015.
If we compare the official data with journalists’ researches and NGOs’ monitoring data, we could see that at least one in ten murders in the country are female murders resulting from domestic violence.
Even if there is no escaping prison, at least one can live there as ‘a reputable killer’. An old tradition is still maintained in Azerbaijani prisons. For example, the ‘Prisoners of honor’, who killed their wives for adultery, are particularly respected in jail.
Another reason for aggravated criminal situation in the country is that the community is slipping towards ‘traditional thinking’, with its strict taboos and double standards. For example, a son killing his mother for dating another man after his father’s death, or a father killing his daughter for spening night away from home etc, quite fit into these standards. There are even some media outlets that publish artices on such murderers in a sympathetic tone.
Orhan Sultanov, an expert in law and psychology, believes that the reason for increased crime rate lies in deteriorated economic situation: “We all know about those shocking experiments, when the psychologists tried to find out the conditions under which an average person starts acting against the laws of morality. And the result was always the same – even the wealthy people from the ‘full up’ society, once put in constrained conditions, start behaving like the beasts.
Whereas for an uneducated person with a low cultural level, a ‘man’s status’, that very ‘honor’, often becomes a reference point in our community. If he can’t establish himself and develop elsewise, then that’s all he has. Therefore, any signs of his wife being unfaithful or even her compalints like ‘you don’t earn much,’ can make him fully lose self-control. The more the unemployment rate increases, the more there will be the ‘frustrated’ men seeking whom to take it out on, and, consequently, more domestic violence.
What does the government do?
In theory, it’s the Azerbaijani State Committee for Family, Women and Children that should deal with the problem of violence against women. Speaking at the conference on violence against women, the Commitee Head, Hijran Huseynova, stated that ‘Azerbaijan pursues a serious public policy with regard to protection of women and children.’ Then Huseynova enlisted those, who could help the government in this matter: non-governmental organizations, academic and scientific community representatives, mass media. The latter were instructed to raise the population’s awareness.
As for the NGOs, the ‘Women’s Crisis Centre’, headed by Matanat Azizova (now a political immigrant), did a great job in providing psychological and other assistance to the violence victims. After the ‘Crisis Center’ was forced to stop functioning, the ‘Clean World’ turned out to be the only place where the violence victims can seek help. Given that NGO registraton procedure became more complictaed a few years ago, it’s hard to expect that any new ones will be set up.
This means that public awareness-building rests on the Ministry of Education, led by the newly appointed Minister, Mikail Jabbarov. Who should first ‘ward off’ numerous citizens’ claim with reagrd to his core activity.