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Azerbaijani woman ‘murdered by husband’ despite appeals to police over abuse

4 August 2021
A protest at the Khazar District Police Department on 4 August following the murder of Sevinj Maharramova. Photo: Voice of America.

Police in Azerbaijan have been accused of failing to take action to protect victims of domestic abuse after a woman who had repeatedly sought help was allegedly murdered by her husband.

Sevinj Maharramova, 24, was killed on Tuesday in the Zira settlement, near Baku. The Khazar District Prosecutor’s Office in Baku said that Maharramova’s husband, 42-year-old Fuzuli Garayev, killed his wife in a neighbour’s house. Garayev has been arrested and charged with premeditated murder.

Following Maharramova’s death, the authorities have faced increasing anger over their apparent inability to protect Maharramova, despite her having approached them several times prior to complain of violence from her husband.

Photos [Warning: graphic imagery] of injuries sustained by Maharramova, allegedly at her husband’s hands were widely shared on social media in March.

On Wednesday, activists threw red paint on the Khazar District Prosecutor’s Office to symbolise the blood of women killed by their spouses.  Three activists along with three journalists covering the event were briefly detained.

‘Femicide is political’. Activists threw red paint on the Khazar District Prosecutor’s Office on Wednesday. Image via Abzas.

The Interior Ministry has denied that they had not reacted adequately to the allegations of abuse. Spokesperson Elshad Hajiyev told journalists on Tuesday that an investigation into ‘torture’ was opened on 26 March after Maharramova appealed to police. ‘The criminal case was closed after both sides reconciled on 17 May’, Hajiyev said.

Women’s rights activist Gulnara Mehdiyeva, who was among the protesters on Wednesday, told OC Media that the authorities’ ‘failure to take timely action … was the main reason for Sevinj’s murder.’

‘The victim, Sevinj, ran away from home after being abused by her husband on 20 March. After her escape, she filed a complaint with the police on 23 March. According to the police, on 17 May, a truce was reached between the two sides and Sevinj returned home.’

‘But the question is, why during this period of around two months, despite the complaints, did the police not take any action against the perpetrator ?!’

‘Sevinj had previously complained about her husband’s violence in 2019 and then in 2020. There are medical expert opinions in this regard.’ 

‘If the police had taken any substantial measures of restraint on the basis of the complaint, Sevinj would not have been killed.’ Mehdiyeva said.

[Read on OC Media: Activists bring coffin to Azerbaijani ministry following spate of women's killings]

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