Hospitalised after being assaulted by her husband, Irina Evdokimova, from Kyrgyzstan, decided that she could not take it any longer. She decided to file for divorce and obtained full custody of their four children after the divorce. However, she could not leave the children alone at home when she was in hospital recovering from her wounds. Evdokimova therefore sent the children temporarily to a boarding school. However, when recovered, she soon encountered a problem: she could not get her children back home from the boarding school. “I needed a qualified lawyer to help me but I could not afford one,” she says.
Evdokimova’s situation is common in Central Asian Kyrgyzstan, where approximately a third of the population live below the poverty line. The UN Development Programme UNDP is developing free-of-charge legal services in Kyrgyzstan to make legal aid available to more people. In 2016 more than 16,000 people received advice in 14 different legal aid centres. Evdokimova also received help: a lawyer at the local legal aid centre assisted her in fulfilling all the necessary documents, and she finally got her children back home.
Legal services also include a bus with lawyers which takes legal aid to the rural villages in the mountains. The bus has helped more than 3,000 people. Particularly mothers with small children, people with disabilities and elderly people benefit from this service. Finland supports the work of the UNDP.
Photo: Meri Bekeshova/UNDP Kyrgyzstan, graphics: Juho Hiilivirta