Zulfiya Raissova

Country/area: Kazakhstan

Organisation: IWPR, CABAR.asia

Organisation size: Small

Cover letter:

Now, I can proudly say that I am a data journalist. Years before after my graduation from the faculty of journalism I felt uncertain about my career path as I did not fully understand what kind of journalist I want to become, what articles I want to write and who will be my audience. This uncertainty lasted until I had a chance to attend the Central Asian Summer Institute in 2018, where I learned about data journalism.

Data journalism is what I am interested in at the moment and what I’ve been doing for the last two years. My mentors are Anastasia Valeeva, Savia Khasanova and Altynai Mambetova who are the founders of the School of Data in Kyrgyzstan. They opened the data journalism for me and recommended me to the editors of Central Asian Bureau for Analytical Reporting (CABAR.asia). Since that I’ve been working with them for almost two years. The reason why I love working with data is that the data more likely guarantee objectivity and accuracy of the information. Also, I enjoy researching through working with open data. Besides, data journalism in Central Asia is practically not developed now; there are very few data journalists. Therefore, I in cooperation with the CABAR.asia Media School, deliver guest lectures for Central Asian students where I talk about data journalism encouraging students to follow a professional path in data journalism.

I researched access to education for rural schoolchildren, on paedophilia, on criminal violence cases, on trade, the military power of the armies in Central Asia Region. My last published research is about sexual harassment in Central Asian taxis. Most often, my research is dedicated specifically to the legal part of the issue. That’s why shortly I am planning to launch my data media related to the law so I could have a positive impact on the legal system in Kazakhstan. It may sound ambitious, but I have already formed a team and found partners to implement the idea, its delivery seem to be a matter of time.

I could see that my professional knowledge is not enough now, so I want to do a Master’s degree in the data in England. And upon its completion, I am planning to continue developing the data community in Kazakhstan by opening a school for data journalism. From my personal experience, it seems difficult to succeed professionally as a data journalist on your own, having the team and the community are important. I want to become the person who can unite individuals interested in working with the data and start implementing the projects that could positively improve the development of states and societies. Also, working with data allows forecasting and disclosing facts/information that are important to the public, but can be intentionally hidden by the government. I hope my data project on legislation in Kazakhstan will have the impact leading to the legal reforms in the country.


Description of portfolio:

I have uploaded 10 articles out of 10 possible. I hope you will enjoy reading them. Almost all the works were done by me, except for the works “Harassment in Taxis in Central Asia: Impunity and No Right to Defense ” and the material “Rapes Classified as Grievous Crime in Kazakhstan”.

First of all, I want to tell you about the material “Harassment in Taxis in Central Asia:

Impunity and No Right to Defense “. This is my last published data work. It is worth noting that this longread was released as part of a 4-month information campaign in Central Asia about harassment in a taxi. The authors of the idea I and my colleague Dastan Akkozha. We involved journalists from Central Asia in the implementation of the project, who collected stories about cases of harassment in taxis in their countries and distributed research questionnaires. We also coordinated the process of taking videos. Why did we start this project? The answer is simple, harassment in a taxi has become so common in our region that many consider it normal, even though harassment can result in a rape.

We independently conducted an online survey, which allowed us to assess the situation with harassment in the region. As a result, we found that 81% of girls in Central Asia experienced harassment in a taxi, and collected more than 100 stories with real cases from girls who faced harassment. The main impact that we received after the information campaign ended is that Kazakhstan continued working on the promotion of the law that increases liability for harassment. Besides, our research data has been submitted to a working group that is promoting this law. Before that, they had no data to rely on. Also, our team is the first to highlight the problem of harassment in a taxi. The full implementation of the project took six months. I was involved in the coordination of material production, analysis, data visualization and writing the text part of the material about Kazakhstan.

The material “Kazakhstan: Only 39% of Criminal Cases on Violence Against Minors Result in Sentences” was written in 4 days. I emotionally wrote the paper after the incident in Satpayevo, where the residents of the city wanted to arrange to lynch for paedophilia. For four nights I analyzed legal statistics to understand what percentage of the victims go to courts and how many cases eventually are brought to the courts. The results were alarming, but I was glad that the material was actively disseminated, and in the winter of 2020, at the legislative level, the punishment for paedophilia become harsher.

The material “Kazakhstan: 88 Convictions for Slander Against Journalists in 10 Years” made it possible to assess the real situation of being a journalist in Kazakhstan. In addition to analyzing legal statistics, I also analyzed thousands of cases to make a game on the most absurd lawsuits against journalists.

With journalist Anna Velichko, we conducted a study on criminal violence cases. The results were presented in the material – “Rapes Classified as Grievous Crime in Kazakhstan”. The material was published at a time when the law against rapists was actively promoted. Now the criminal terms have been tightened.

Most of the materials are based on the analysis of legal statistics and focusing on non-working laws in Kazakhstan. I also analyzed the military power in Kazakhstan, the history of the Parliament, as well as migration issues in Central Asia.

Project links: