Poll: 45% of people in Kazakhstan supported the life imprisonment for Kuandyk Bishimbayev

78% of Kazakhstanis supported tougher penalties for domestic violence

From May 8 to May 15, 2024,  the DEMOSCOPE Public Opinion Express Monitoring Bureau conducted a survey of citizens on the topic of What People in Kazakhstan Think of Domestic Violence. The project is implemented by MediaNet International Centre for Journalism in cooperation with the PAPERLAB Research Center with the support of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation. 

The DEMOSCOPE study examined public opinion on domestic violence and measures to prevent it, as well as the level of support from the parties in the case of former Minister of National Economy Kuandyk Bishimbayev. The survey was conducted during the trial period before the verdict was announced.

According to the DEMOSCOPE research, 45.1% of people in Kazakhstan considered a life sentence to be a fair punishment for Bishimbayev. 19.4% of respondents were for his imprisonment for 15 to 20 years. 9.5% supported a term of 10 to 15 years. 1.4% were for probation and a fine.

In addition to the preferred sentence, the survey also revealed which side Kazakhstanis supported. Thus, the overwhelming majority of respondents (71.9%) expressed solidarity with the victim Saltanat Nukenova. At the same time, only 0.4% (four people) supported Kuandyk Bishimbayev’s side. A fifth of the respondents (22.7%) did not support either side.

High public support for the process was also shown in the willingness of 40.7% of citizens to seek, in their opinion, a fair punishment for Bishimbayev in case of an unfair sentence. Of these, 24% said they were ready to sign petitions and appeals addressed to the president, 3.9% would join demonstrations and rallies, and 12.8% would be outraged and discuss it in the circle. However, 32.6% said they would do nothing.

The Bishimbayev Trial has become a historical and landmark for the Kazakh society, causing a large-scale resonance, including outside the country. Such proceedings were broadcast live for the first time. Even against the background of unprecedented floods, the public’s attention was focused on this trial.

According to DEMOSCOPE, in total more than half of Kazakhstanis (52.5%) watched it. At the same time, more than a third (35.7%) knew about the trial, but did not follow it and 10.9% heard about the proceedings for the first time.

It is significant that the majority of Kazakhstanis (61.5%) expressed approval of the fact of the live broadcast and wide media coverage of this trial. On the contrary 12.2% did not agree with this approach, and 15.8% expressed indifference to the case.

One of the key indicators of the DEMOSCOPE study is the public perception of the permissibility of gender-based violence. To measure this indicator, respondents were asked if the physical violence of a husband against his wife in some cases can be justified. In the proposed response scale 1 meant that it can never be justified and 10 meant that it can always be justified. 

According to the survey, the majority of respondents (65.8%) were convinced that the physical violence of a husband against his wife could never be justified. At the same time, a total of 27.7% of respondents with varying degrees of confidence believed that violence against women in some cases could be justified.

The most important indicator of justifying violence was the attitude of the male population towards it. And there was a significant gender gap there – 55.5% of men and 75.9% of women considered violence unacceptable.

In dynamics the DEMOSCOPE results can be compared with the data of the World Values Survey, which was conducted in 2017. At that time, Kazakhstan’s position was much worse – only 54.9% of citizens spoke out about the inadmissibility of violence against their spouse. This is 10.9% lower than current figures.

At the same time, 37.9% of people in Kazakhstan were convinced that violence could be justified in certain circumstances. These results display that public perception of gender-based violence in Kazakhstan is showing positive changes. 

The DEMOSCOPE study presented that 70.8% of citizens considered the problem of domestic violence to be relevant, of which 40.5% – extremely relevant and 30.3% – rather relevant. At the same time, 12.8% considered this problem rather irrelevant and 5.2% – completely irrelevant.

A significant factor in the perception of domestic violence is the respondent’s personal experience. Thus, according to the survey, more than a third of Kazakhstanis (34.7%) faced situations in their environment when a husband used physical violence against his wife. Of these, 10.6% had to face it multiple times, 24.1% – several times. In this matter, it is impossible not to note the data in the context of gender. Thus, women were almost twice as likely as men to experience husband–to-wife violence – 44.1% and 26.3% respectively.

In response to the public outcry caused by the murder of Saltanat Nukenova, President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev signed amendments to legislation toughening penalties for violence against women and children.

During the survey, Kazakhstanis were asked if they supported the new amendments. The overwhelming majority of citizens (78.5%) expressed support for the adopted standards. 8.8% were against them, 3.4% expressed a neutral attitude. And 6.3% did not know anything about this law. 

In addition to legislative measures, according to 36.8% of respondents, the most effective measure to reduce the level of domestic violence in Kazakhstan will be to increase the requirements for the work of law enforcement agencies. Other proposed measures include:

  • additional tightening of penalties for domestic violence (30.3%);
  • empowerment of women in society (20.3%);
  • conducting information campaigns and educational programs on the problem of domestic violence (19.1%);
  • increase in crisis centers for victims of domestic violence (15.3%);
  • introduction of compulsory rehabilitation and treatment of aggressors (15%).

However, 4.3% believe that no action should be taken. In this question, the respondents could choose up to three possible answers. 

The DEMOSCOPE study showed that the phenomenon of the virality of the Bishimbayev Case is also associated with a low level of public confidence in the judicial and law enforcement system. Obviously, for this reason, increasing the requirements for the work of law enforcement agencies has become a priority measure in the counteraction to domestic violence in Kazakhstan. And against the background of social and economic issues, the case of the ex-minister became a kind of public trigger and brought the understanding of the problem of domestic violence to a new level.

When using the data, the hyperlink to the DEMOSCOPE website is required.


Methodology: From 8 to 15 May 2024, 1,100 people were interviewed in 17 regions and cities of national significance (Astana, Almaty, and Shymkent). The poll was conducted by telephone interviews among mobile subscribers in Kazakhstan. The sample was based on a database of numbers obtained using a random number generator. The telephone poll was carried out by the KT CloudLab Contact Center. 47.4% of men and 52.6% of women over the age of 18 took part in the survey. 54.1% preferred to answer in Kazakh, 45.9% – in Russian. 70.5% of respondents were Kazakhs, 14.4% were Russians and 14.6% were representatives of other nationalities. 69.6% of respondents lived in the city, 30.4% – in rural areas. The data was weighted by parameters such as gender and age of the respondents. The maximum margin of error with a 95% probability did not exceed 3%. The respondents’ reachability rate was 13%. The survey was implemented by MediaNet International Centre for Journalism Public Foundation with the support of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation. The survey data reflect the respondents’ point of view. For more information, please contact the project coordinator Snezhana Tsoy on snezhana.tsoy@medianet.ngo.

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What People In Kazakhstan Think Of Domestic Violence