On 12 June 23 years old Madina Umaeva, a-mother-of-three was found dead in her home in the Chechen Republic, in Russia. She was buried in haste by her husband and his relatives on the night of the same day, before the cause and circumstances of death could be established, and despite the Muslim tradition of not burying the dead after sunset.
Need for investigation
According to the family-in-law, the deceased fell down the stairs of their home, as she suffered from epilepsy, prior to her death. However, the deceased’s mother states that her daughter was healthy, and that before her death her daughter had had a conflict with her husband, who had previously beaten her on several occasions. A cousin of Umaeva further told the Russian newspaper Caucasian Knot that Umaeva had complained of domestic violence and that she had tried to end the relationship on a number of occasions.
In a letter to the Chairman of the Investigation Committee of the Russian Federation, Norwegian Helsinki Committee, Amnesty International, International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), International Partnership for Human Rights (IPHR) and several other international organizations are asking Russian authorities to send the materials of the examination to the Main Investigation Department of the Investigative Committee of Russia, to open a criminal case and to conduct an effective investigation.
“Domestic violence is a widespread problem in Chechnya, and such cases need to be investigated properly in order to seek justice for the family”, says Bjørn Engesland Secretary General of The Norwegian Helsinki Committee.
Mother humiliated by Chechnya’s leader
Later, Umaeva’s body was exhumed for a forensic examination to establish the cause of death. After the examination, Umaeva’s mother told the media that she had been present at the exhumation and seen a “scar or wound and blood from this wound” on her daughter’s body. Then Chechnya’s leader, Ramzan Kadyrov, intervened and both families was invited to a meeting with Kadyrov.
In a video from the meeting, Kadyrov justifies domestic violence, and says that the deceased “should have held on to her marriage (…) when a woman is married, there are arguments, and fights, and sometimes her husband beats her.” He also humiliates Umaeva’s mother by saying to her: “You asked me to help. Now prove to me that she was killed, show me at least one witness.”
Russian authorities have an obligation to ensure that women are safe from domestic violence
The translation of the full video of this meeting, published at a Telegram channel, shows Kadyrov promising to “punish” the witnesses. The mother of the deceased, was also forced to apologize to the head of the Chechen Republic on camera for requesting an investigation into the death of her daughter.
“That those who seek justice for domestic abuse should stay silent is a damaging message to send from the head of the Chechen Republic. Russian authorities have an obligation to ensure that women are safe from domestic violence, and to ensure their safety in speaking out”, says Engesland.