ALMATY (Reuters) - The government of the Central Asian state of Tajikistan is failing to protect women from violence and abuse, human rights group Amnesty International said in a report on Tuesday.
Mostly Muslim Tajikistan, which borders Afghanistan, is the poorest former Soviet republic, its economy devastated by a civil war in the 1990s.
Observers see its government, led by President Imomali Rakhmon, as less repressive than those in neighbouring Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, but London-based Amnesty said the issue of women's rights was pressing.
"Women in Tajikistan are beaten, abused, and raped in the family but the authorities tend to reflect the societal attitude of blaming the woman for domestic violence," Tajikistan expert Andrea Strasser-Camagni said in a statement.
The group said one-third to a half of Tajik women have been regularly subjected to physical, psychological or sexual violence at the hands of their husbands or in-laws and all women had very limited employment opportunities.
"Women are being treated as servants or as the in-laws' family property. They have no one to turn to as the policy of the authorities is to urge reconciliation which de facto reinforces their position of inferiority," Strasser-Camagni said.
"This experience of violence and humiliation in the family makes many women to turn to suicide."
Amnesty said many girls were being denied the opportunity to receive proper education, dropping out of school early to enter marriages, often polygamous or unregistered.
It urged the government to introduce laws and support services to tackle domestic violence and carry out public awareness campaigns addressing illegal marriage issues.
"By writing off violence against women as a family affair the authorities in Tajikistan are shirking their responsibility to a large part of the population," Strasser-Camagni said.
"They are allowing perpetrators of such crimes to act with impunity and, ultimately, denying women their human rights."
(Writing by Olzhas Auyezov; Editing by Victoria Main)