Section 2. Respect for Civil Liberties
c. Freedom of Religion
Section 6. Discrimination and Societal Abuses
Rape and Domestic Violence: The law defines rape as sexual intercourse committed by force, threats, or abuse of the helpless regardless of gender. Conviction of rape is punishable three to 20 years’ imprisonment. There is no separate legally recognized category of spousal rape. Domestic violence is listed as a crime against health or against sexual freedom. By law mandatory reconciliation procedures may be imposed on survivors of domestic violence during divorce proceedings. The criminal and administrative codes do not include adequate provisions regarding punishment of convicted abusers. Protection orders may be issued, but activists stated they were of little use to the survivor who often remained confined with the abuser. According to the Ministry of Internal Affairs, 26,105 women received protection orders in the first eight months of year, but only 0.2 percent of abusers were prosecuted and only 18 percent of those convicted received prison sentences.
The government provided no data on the incidence of gender-based violence. According to civil society NGOs, the problem remained acute. Local media reported that on May 13, six drunk men raped an 18-year-old, five-months pregnant woman at a field camp in the Andijan Region. The Andijan Regional Investigation Department of Internal Affairs opened a criminal case, but no charges were filed due to lack of evidence; the evidence obtained could not “confirm the fact of rape.” In October a deputy dean of a university in Tashkent was arrested for attempted rape of a female university student. In addition the deputy dean threw her out of a third-floor window when she resisted and called for help. The president’s daughter, Saida Mirziyoyeva, made a public appeal to end violence and sexual harassment of women in public institutions following the incident.
Cultural norms discouraged women and their families from speaking openly regarding rape. Journalist and founder of an independent project seeking to combat domestic violence in the country nemolchi.uz (do not be silent), Irina Matvienko, stated that the inaction of law enforcement authorities regarding domestic violence led to suicide and homicide among women, including the killing by women of their children when they took their own lives. On April 1, Mukhlisa Kadamboyeva, a 19-year-old native of Shavat District in the Khorezm Region, hanged herself in her husband’s house. Kadamboyeva’s parents reported she was beaten by her husband for borrowing money from a neighbor and for leaving the house without her husband’s permission. On May 20, the Prosecutor’s Office declined to open a criminal case of incitement to suicide against the husband but instead charged him with “light bodily injury.”
There were government-run and some NGO-run shelters for survivors of domestic abuse and telephone hotlines for survivors seeking assistance. The government reported providing assistance to 247 women at government shelters. Survivors of domestic violence were also at government Centers for Rehabilitation and Adaptation. According to the Ministry for the Support of Community and Family Affairs, the hotline received 50 to 60 calls per day on average. Authorities provided women in the shelters with food, medicine, and hygiene products and funds to cover other expenses.
The Commission on Gender Equality of Uzbekistan, together with the UN Population Fund and the Center for Support of Civil Initiatives, operated a telephone hotline service during the COVID-19 pandemic quarantine period to act on reports of harassment and violence against women.
Other Harmful Traditional Practices: Polygamy is unofficially practiced in some parts of the country. The law punishes conviction of polygamy with up to three years’ imprisonment and monetary fines but does not penalize women in such cases. The law does not confer the same rights, including property, inheritance, or child custody rights, to women in unregistered polygamous marriages as it does to those in registered marriages, making women in unregistered polygamous marriages particularly vulnerable to abuse and deprivation of rights when the spouse dies or ends the relationship.
Sexual Harassment: The law does not explicitly prohibit sexual harassment, but it is illegal for a male supervisor to coerce a woman having business or financial dependency into a sexual relationship. Social norms, lack of reporting, and lack of legal recourse made it difficult to assess the scope of the problem. Government efforts to enforce the law and prevent sexual harassment were unknown.
Reproductive Rights: Unlike in 2020 there were no reports of coerced abortion or involuntary sterilization on the part of government authorities.
The law regulates reproductive health procedures permitting voluntary and informed consent for sterilization of an adult. Citizens had access to voluntary family planning, including the ability to choose methods of contraception. Women have the legal right to receive medical assistance for individual selection of contraceptive methods, based on their medical condition, age, and individual characteristics.
Contraception was not always available to men and women. Nevertheless, most districts had maternity clinics staffed by fully trained doctors who provided a wide range of prenatal and postpartum care. Menstrual health and hygiene products were available on the market but not accessible to all strata of the population, especially in poorer regions of the country. Poor sanitation and access to clean running water in rural areas was a challenge for menstrual hygiene, especially among school-age girls.
The government provided access to sexual and reproductive health services, including emergency contraception for women who reported sexual violence; however, activists reported the topic remained taboo and there were no official statistics on the number of cases.
Discrimination: The law provides for the same legal status and rights for women as for men in the areas of health care, education, science, culture, labor, and social protection.
By law women may own property, inherit goods, secure employment outside the home, obtain credit, and own and manage a business. Traditional views on the roles of women contributed to increased social difficulties for women pursuing their legal rights in these areas.
Systemic Racial or Ethnic Violence and Discrimination
There are no legal impediments for citizens who belong to one of the country’s ethnic minorities. By law all citizens have equal rights without regard to their ethnicity.
Complaints of societal violence or discrimination against members of ethnic minority groups were rare. The law does not require Uzbek language ability to obtain citizenship, but language often was a sensitive matter. Uzbek is the state language, and the constitution requires that the president speak it. The law also provides that Russian is “the language of interethnic communication.” There are criminal penalties for conviction of stirring up discord through inflammatory statements against other ethnic groups.
Officials reportedly reserved senior positions in the government bureaucracy and business for ethnic Uzbeks, although there were numerous exceptions.
There were no government programs to mitigate societal, racial, or ethnic biases.
Section 7. Worker Rights
d. Discrimination with Respect to Employment and Occupation
Laws and regulations prohibit discrimination with respect to employment and occupation based on race, gender, religion, and language. The labor code states that differences in the treatment of individuals deserving of the state’s protection or requiring special accommodation, including women, children, and persons with disabilities, are not to be considered discriminatory. The law prohibits women from working in 355 professions in 98 different industries, because of possible adverse effect to women’s health. The law does not prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, age, political opinion, national origin or citizenship, or social origin. HIV-positive individuals are legally prohibited from being employed in certain occupations, including those in the medical field that require direct contact with patients or with blood or blood products as well as in cosmetology or haircutting. There were insufficient publicly available data to determine government enforcement of these laws and regulations and no data were available on instances of government actions to deal with cases of illegal discrimination. Penalties were commensurate to laws related to civil rights, such as election interference.
The labor code prohibits refusing employment based on an applicant’s criminal record or the criminal record of a close relative.