On November 6, 2019, a conference on parental maintenance obligations was held, where parents and the authorities discussed why, on the one hand, parents fail to fulfill their duties and, on the other hand, the state fails to protect the rights of the child.
The conference was attended by members of the Jogorku Kenesh, the Kara-Balta City Council, the Government Office, the Ministry of Labor and Social Development, the State Registration Service, the State Border Service, the Judicial Department of the KR Supreme Court, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Ministry of Justice, and Ombudsman’s Office. Other participants included lawyers, notaries, representatives of non-governmental organizations and members of the “Mothers for the Rights of Children” informal movement, whose stories can be followed under the hashtag #маматынеодна.
In her welcoming speech, Aida Kasymalieva, Vice Speaker of the Jogorku Kenesh, said that the state should pay attention to the issue of migration, which has resulted in negative outcomes such as children growing up without parents, and parents failing to pay child support as they live in another state, being unreachable by bailiffs.
Ulan Mamatkanov, Head of Social Affairs Department at the KR Government Office, noted that the state is trying to pay a lot of attention to children's rights. In particular, this year Kyrgyzstan is going to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the accession to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the 25th anniversary of its ratification. Nevertheless, as he emphasized, many parents do not fulfill their obligations to their own children, which increases to role of the state in controlling and preventing such violations. He also noted an increase in the number of divorces in the country, which negatively affects children.
Aisuluu Mamashova, a member of the Jogorku Kenesh and one of the initiators of the amendments to the existing legislation on child maintenance obligations, proposed to conduct a raid together with bailiffs to monitor the child support collection process. It should be noted that most of the questions were asked by parents to the Judicial Department. The questions were answered by Maksat Moinokov, Head of Judicial Acts Office of the Judicial Department. Aisuluu Mamashova invited all those present to join the working group to monitor the practical efforts of bailiffs. At the end of the conference, several people expressed their willingness to become members of the group.
The “Mothers for the Rights of Children” informal movement presented two case studies featuring real stories of some movement members. Inna Aksenova talked about how to achieve justice in court if there is a dash in the “father” column in a birth certificate. She also referred to the 2017 statistics, which said that there were about 16 thousand children in Kyrgyzstan who formally had no fathers, which is almost 11% of all children born this year.
Aida Sabyrbekova shared that the father of her child, the son of a wealthy official and the owner of two companies, paid just 2,300 soms as child support. First, she had to establish paternity in court, but now she considers applying for the annulment of his paternal rights to save herself from getting a permission to take her child abroad.
Aisuluu Kamchybekova, a UNDP representative, noted that the failure to pay child support is an economic violence and called the women who were able to openly state this issue courageous and strong. The conference also raised the issue of stigmatizing parents’ roles based on gender. The respective speech was delivered by Ak-Moor Dzhanbolotova, the leader of the “Moms for the Rights of Children” informal movement and a blogger. She talked about the issue of legal illiteracy of women, especially in the regions. One of the participants asked to also hold a similar event in the regions, where women are even more dependent on the opinions of other people, including relatives.
The discussion of the proposed amendments, which, in particular, provide for the definition of the term “persistent non-payer of child support” and the minimum amount of child support, was very lively. Women voiced their issues, the authorities tried to address them acknowledging that the issue was important and urgent.
Muhabbat Tokombaeva, a member of the Kara-Balta City Council, noted that the Family Code refers to the equal rights and duties of parents. But “for some reason, all obligations fall on the parent who stays with the child”. She also raised the issue of housing. The interests of the child have never taken into account. The former spouse can re-register the housing, where his ex-wife and children lived for many years, in the name of his relatives. And even the court cannot do anything to protect the child’s right to this property. Muhabbat Tokombaeva also challenged the appropriateness of a ban to take the child abroad imposed by one of the parents even the child had to travel for treatment or a competition.
At the end of the conference “Ex-Children”: Parental Maintenance Obligations, participants adopted a resolution setting out recommendations for all branches of government, as well as an initiative to develop a program that promotes family values, responsible parenthood, and protected childhood. Subject to state support, this program will achieve many goals, including the reduced number of child support-debtors.