TUMAR Campaign: How to use local symbols and traditions to end violence against children

UNICEF, together with the President of Kyrgyzstan, has launched the national campaign to end violence against children called “Tumar”

By Miguel Mateos Munoz
Tumar campaign
UNICEF/Kyrgyzstan/2019/Bektur Janibekov
01 June 2019

In Kyrgyz culture, parents, to protect the child from birth, wear a Tumar, a triangle-shaped amulet. The Tumar bears a Kyrgyz pattern especially dedicated to children: a new moon symbolizing a child and a mythical Umai mother – a protection sign. All these details, put together in the Tumar, activate the symbol of child protection.

However, in real Kyrgyz life, the situation regarding violence against children is much more worrisome. According to the latest MICS 2018 data, almost 3 out of 4 children suffer from violence. These numbers are even more tragic when we compare them to MICS 2014, in which the figure of children affected by violence was 54%; a 20% raise in 4 years!

On June 1, the Tumar Campaign was launched to end violence against children, kicking-off the celebration of the 30-years anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) in the country. The campaign is organized by UNICEF under the auspices of the President of Kyrgyzstan. The launch event counted with the participation of around 500 children performing and an overall attendance of over 1,000 people and counted with the participation of Nazgul Tashpayeva, Head of the department of Civil development, Religious and Ethnic issues in the President Office, Yukie Mokuo, as UNICEF Representative in Kyrgyzstan, and the participation of the couple formed by Mirbek Atabekov and Meerim Tolepbergen, most famous singer in Kyrgyzstan and famous blogger, that were appointed as UNICEF Ambassadors for the Tumar Campaign.

However, in real Kyrgyz life, the situation regarding violence against children is much more worrisome. According to the latest MICS 2018 data, almost 3 out of 4 children suffer from violence. These numbers are even more tragic when we compare them to MICS 2014, in which the figure of children affected by violence was 54%; a 20% raise in 4 years!

Photo exhibition on Ala-Too square
UNICEF/Kyrgyzstan/2019/Bektur Janibekov

The launch also included a photo exhibition in the center of Bishkek, opened by the UNICEF Representative and the Deputy Mayor of Bishkek, Tatyana Kuznetsova, with pictures of the main programmatic areas of UNICEF in the country.

In addition, closing June 1 celebrations, the Prime Minister of Kyrgyzstan, Muhammetkaliy Abulgaziyev, and UNICEF Representative presented a puppet theatre developed by UNICEF with the main puppet theatre in the country and supported by UK Aid. The play presents the cartoon Keremet Koch developed by UNICEF and spreads an inclusive message of diversity and tolerance for children.

This campaign is a follow-up to the Roadmap on communication for prevention of VAC at home, developed by UNICEF, which revealed underlying factors of this phenomenon in Kyrgyzstan such as: acceptance of violent discipline methods in society; increase in number of cases of maltreatment and homicides of young children left behind by the migrant parents in the care of relatives; signs of a social norm of non-interference in the family matters, even in cases of obvious violence, and the expectation of obedience of children to adults. 

With a focus on advocacy for strategic C4D interventions to end and prevent violence, UNICEF participated in the governmental working group to develop a plan for immediate and long-term actions. The roadmap was finally endorsed as a governmental communication strategy to end and prevent violence against children.  

Tumar campaign
UNICEF/Kyrgyzstan/2019