Georgia and gender-based violence on my mind

There are two issues right now which I am concerned about…

One is Georgia and Russian involvement in the conflict. It’s scary what can happen next to other autonomies which Russia just has to support ‘due to its Soviet legacy’ (read Russian media to find support for these arguments). My mom’s friend said that its all about elections in the US, they need a war to win elections, Iran and Iraq are not popular anymore so now its Georgia. A name of a country and a name of US state. See picture below for details on why some Americans feel that their country is invaded. It’s like ‘Wag the dog’ movie with ‘who cares about Albania?’.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And another one is gender-based violence. A transsexual woman was raped three weeks ago in Bishkek by three men, they burnt her nipples and genitals with cigarettes and burnt her bra, she did not dare to seek help and did not believe that it was possible to address the rape in court. This was a hate crime which could’ve been prevented. We could not register the rape because her legal gender is not female and only females can be raped according to the Kyrgyz law.  The image below is directly relevant to the hate crime…

WordPress in Turkey, church against LGBT and other news

The revelation of the last week for me was that wordpress is banned in Turkey. I could not post anything for the week even though I planned to. Now I am back and looking at the news.

The top three news for now are:

1. Russian Orthodox Church against homosexuality and Apostolic church story continued. Today local chapter of Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) made a public statement that ROC ‘has never supported, does not support and never will support sodomites’. The press release available in Russian below accuses 5 Bishkek Channel for confusing ROC and Apostolic church and giving the viewers a wrong perception of the ROC’s position on homosexuality. The press release calles LGBT people ‘sodomites’ and compares LGBT people with necrophiles and pedophiles while the LGBT-friendly priest Maxim Bratukhin is described as a ‘disguised pervert’.  Kloop posted a balanced article about this situation.

2. Gender policy in Kyrgyzstan was mixed with other ‘soft’ issues through the parliamentary committee for youth, gender policy, physical education and sports.

3.  Interesting discussion on bridekidnapping is happening on Diesel forum. There is not a single person there supporting this ‘tradition’.

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Female Minister of Labor and Social Development resigns to free the way

When I was writing about Parliamentary elections and women’s participation, there was a concern over possibility of resignations of electen women to give their place to somebody else. There was a precedent in 2007 Armenian parliamentary elections of elected female MPs resigning to give their seat to a more popular man. The 15% quota in Armenia only gave women a 9% representation in Parliament.

‘Freeing a way’ for somebody younger, stronger and male has been one of the strategies sometimes raised in Kyrgyz society. For example, in 2001 Presidential elections village elders wrote a letter to Omurbek Tekebaev who was running for a presidential seat that he should ‘ free way’ to an older and wiser candidate. 

I am happy that the freeing way is not yet part of discourse in the parliament, yet resignation of Minister of Labor Jamilya Alymbekova set a precedent for using this approach to leaving political spaces. She freed way to ‘the young’.

Women in Parliament: theories and realities

Gulnara Ibraeva, chair of Agency of Social Technologies  and women’s movement activist, held a lecture titled ‘Women in Kyrgyz Parliament: experience and possibilities of the new electoral process’. The lecture was hosted by Social Research Center of the American University – Central Asia.

Gulnara spoke about the structure of power and decision-making in Kyrgyz society which offers ways to interpret and theorize about women’s future involvement in Parliament.  According to Ibraeva, the state can be compared to a benevolent paternalistic father who is simulating protection and care while at the same time has something to hide.  The structure of the 2005 Parliament all male over certain age and mostly ethnic Kyrgyz  paternalistically claimed accounting for all groups’ needs.

Gulnara said that new people in the government which give representation to different points of view might shake the system, yet there is a concern that the women running for parliament right now represent systems which are rigid and might not recognize the need for addressing gender inequality due to privileged social status. Political parties also did not have time to prepare for the elections and the need for party lists quotas caught them unarmed having to find young, female and non-Kyrgyz candidates within a short period of time. 

Committed women’s rights activists are hardly represented among female candidates for parliament seats. According to Ibraeva, either they were not contacted or they fall outside of the accepted male leadership domains.

Another issue that restricts representation is based on an unspoken rule among political parties of the ‘contribution of a candidate towards election campaign’. Women’s income in Kyrgyzstan despite the social position are hardly high enough to ‘contribute’ to be listed among the top three names.   

According to Ibraeva, if the formerly underrepresented groups will make it to parliament (and she is optimistic about it), they will shake the state structures and challenge the system’s rigidity thus giving a new perspective on state power.  The shake might cause a change of power relations in Parliament and eliminate the domination at least of one ethnic group in decision-making. Representation of women also might serve as a shield from Islamization and protect from proposals to legalize polygamy, criminalize abortion and decrease the sentence for bride kidnapping all made in the past years by the government.

The newly represented groups may also put the new and forgotten issues on political agenda with focus.  and The role NGOs which compensate for lack of different groups’ access to power would then be recognized and stronger.

The audience at the lecture asked Gulnara whether the Armenian scenario of elected women giving up their positions to men could be repeated in Kyrgyzstan. Gulnara responded that the quota system ensures that any quota member elected can be substituted by another quota member (e.g. if an elected woman declines her seat, she can only be substituted by another woman).

For more information, please, look at the powerpoint presentation (in Russian) below.

 Powerpoint Presentation by Gulnara Ibraeva (Russian)

Rights of believers and non-believers in Kyrgyzstan

There are new arguments for an interpretation of human rights that are raised by the organized Muslim believers. I heard this argument in relation to homosexuality, that ‘homosexuals violate the rights of 4 million Muslim believers in Kyrgyzstan for whom homosexuality is a sin’. Today the president and the new Constitution are violating the rights of believers, writes 24.kg. First of all, the Constitution states that Kyrgyzstan is a secular state which means that Kyrgyzstan is a ‘godless, spiritual-less and moralless state’ said Akim Toktaliev (source: 24.kg), chair of the committee of protection of the Kyrgyz people’s honor and dignity.

There is an ongoing discussion about wearing hijabs to school in the South. Girls could be dropping out of schools (which has been a trend before) without the possibility to wear what their religion instructs them to do.

From gender point of view, the main concern is freedom of expression and belief. There are more and more women in Bishkek wearing hijabs. People living in Jal district of Bishkek report being woken up at 5 am by visitors from nearby mosque who are asking all men in the family to come for a prayer. If a woman opens the door and her hair is not covered, the male visitors turn away and ask her to call her husband or another male relative to the door. Would it be possible for a woman who chose not to cover her hair or body to speak in Parliament or walk on the streets without ‘violating rights of believers’?