Why child sexual abuse in Kyrgyzstan remains unpunished

Country/area: Kyrgyzstan

Organisation: Open Democracy

Organisation size: Small

Publication date: 10/08/2021

Credit: Tom Rowley, Paolo Sorbello


I am a freelance data journalist (previously based in Bishkek, currently in Vienna) covering different topics as human rights, economics, healthcare, ecology etc. Currently pursuing a Master degree in Nationalism Studies at the Central European University.  I started practicing data journalism as a journalist through Data Journalism Fellowship by Internews Kyrgyzstan where I was accepted while being a student of a journalism major at the American University of Central Asia. I learned data journalism after taking two semester long data journalism class at my university which was the start of my data journalist career. 

Project description:

The project investigates not only the situation on child sexual abuse in Kyrgyzstan, but more explores the numbers of cases that are taken to the police investigation room and the Court. The findings of the project are rather negative since only a quarter of the perpetrators are punished, while the rest manage to escape the punishment by different means. Moreovee, the project also discusses the processes in which parents/legal guardians of children take part in perpetrators’s escape to get punishment. 

Impact reached:

Due to langauge barriers, since the project was published in English and english speaking medium, it did not bring much reaction by the members of Kyrgyz community. Thus, it did not bring any community discussions as expected too except for the social media discussions. 

Techniques/technologies used:

In the process of data collection, I used several online and application scrapers as Tabula and Webscraper tools because most of the needed data were in PDF formats or on websites. I also learned how to use google extensions such as Table Capture to get data from web pages. All the data was collected and analyzed in Google Spreadsheets and Excel, data visualizations were done on DataWrapper online service, and the illustrations were drawn on Adone Illustrator. Some data on the published news in Kyrgyz media on child sexual abuse should have been looked through by me personally. 

What was the hardest part of this project?

The hardest part, most probably, was the interview parts with the experts and human rights advocates since the topic holds very sensitive character, therefore some details discussed with them also gave psychological pressure to me as to a person who was not trained psychologically. Moreover, since the project is connected to children, and especially touches upon such topic, ethical moments should be discussed with the editors/supervisors in every thesis that was made. I could not include human stories and collect them by myself to support the data and the hypothesis, thus I needed to use the stories that are already were published by news agencies. The access to information part was also challenging — the data from the Supreme Court and the Ministry of Internal Affairs had different numbers in one question, and it required quite long time to get the response from these two Ministries. The last, since the project was done during the first period of the world pandemic, it was quite problematic to get in touch with crisis centers, experts, ministries, statistical offices etc. 

What can others learn from this project?

This project does not focus only one question such “How bad is the situation with child sexual abuse in Kyrgyzstan” but takes furyher steps to discover “What is being done to  fight with this” and then shows the whole picture with the court and crime statistics which gives the rather sad conslusion that this case is vicious circle. As for the formattng, there are some ideas that good data projects better to focus to one hypothisis, however, as a data journalist, I prefer to show the whole picture of the situation — and I belive that this project of mine proves that this approach can also be successful. 

Project links: