Women in Turkmenistan are one of the most vulnerable parts of the population. Despite the Constitution and the declarations of the Turkmen officialdom on gender equality, in practice Turkmenistan pushes discriminatory views towards women into society.
More than a half the country's population is women, but political structures are dominated by men. Women do not influence decision-making in matters of economic development, distribution of resources, state security, diplomacy, or the formation of policies on which their own fate depends.
More recently, foreign media widely publicized the closure of beauty centers, news about the ban on dyeing hair blonde, the ban on wearing tight-fitting clothing, women driving cars and even sitting in the front seat of a car, etc. Moreover, the authorities presented this as following national traditions and customs.
The whole world read such news with interest as something extravagant.
However, the problem of violence against women in families, harassment at work and in society remained in the background. According to some data, 41 percent confirmed that they were subject to control by their husbands and older family members. 12 percent of the Turkmen women surveyed experienced various types of violence from their partners. And only 12 percent of them asked for help. What does it mean? The fact that in the country, not without the help of the authorities, the opinion is supported that “taking quarrels out in public” is shameful. Especially about sexual violence - this topic is taboo in society.
Now let's think about how to read this data. If a country has been hiding population statistics for many years, and the figures published by official bodies raise great doubts among world society; if hundreds of thousands of cases of violence are hidden by the victims themselves; even the same number of cases are covered up by law enforcement agencies in order to embellish reports, then you yourself can imagine the scale of the problem.
Due to limited time, I will voice only part of the recommendations:
1. Of course, there should be transparent population statistics, which the country has not had for several decades.
2. Holding accountable officials who try to silence cases of violence in the family and in society
3. Extensive preventive work on the concepts of gender equality with the population, starting with institutions for general education, including publications in the media, videos and films on this topic
4. Comprehensive state support for the revitalization of civil society
Thank you for your attention.
Turkmen Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights.