Am I a saint or a sinner?

In a concerning trend that has captured the attention of international and local organizations, civil society, and artists, the recent surge in violence against women in Azerbaijan has become a matter of profound worry. According to the State Statistics Committee, the alarming figures indicate a grim reality—51 women fell victim to domestic violence in the past year alone, marking a distressing escalation from the 46 cases reported in 2021 and 41 in 2020. The stark 25 percent increase in the number of women losing their lives to domestic violence in just the last two years underscores a pressing issue that demands immediate attention.

Amidst this backdrop, the UNiTE campaign has designated the 25th of each month as an "orange day" to raise awareness and advocate for an end to violence against women and girls. The vibrant and optimistic color orange symbolizes a future free from such atrocities, uniting communities in a collective effort.

Local organizations and institutions are actively contributing to the discourse through various events and training sessions. One standout event, titled "Am I a Saint or a Sinner?" organized by the Gender Hub Azerbaijan team, took a unique and impactful approach to addressing the pervasive issue. The event, characterized by its effective engagement with the topic, comprised three distinct components:

  1. Written Installations on Canvas: Attendees were introduced to canvas installations featuring research by Legend Tahirova, sparking thoughtful reflections.
  2. Dance Performance by Nigar Ibrahimbayli: A poignant dance performance by Nigar Ibrahimbayli, set to a sound installation crafted from the voices of three women sharing their experiences of violence, left a lasting impression. Some audience members found resonance with their own stories.
  3. Panel Discussion Moderated by Afsana Tahirova.

The event's panel discussion, moderated by Afsana Tahirova, addressed the issue from multiple perspectives, featuring notable figures such as Parvana Mammadova (founder of "women's diary" platform), Anar Valiyev (professor at ADA University), Khalisa Shahverdi (gender and inclusive development expert and lawyer), Tural Huseynzade (employee of the State Committee for Family, Women, and Children Affairs), and psychologist Gulnara Akbarova.

A pivotal moment during the event was the impassioned speech by British Ambassador Fergus Auld, who notably spoke a significant portion of his address in Azerbaijani, underscoring the gravity of the issue.

The panel discussion delved into the shortcomings associated with violence, highlighting crucial measures to address the problems. Insightful information about institutions providing support for women facing violence was shared. In a powerful conclusion, the event emphasized that the responsibility for addressing these cases lies with the entire society, emphasizing the need for collective action and societal accountability. As Azerbaijan grapples with the escalating crisis of violence against women, these discussions and initiatives aim to pave the way for tangible change and a safer future for all.

Nargiz Abbasova


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