On May 12, the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) published a review on the restrictions on women's rights in Turkmenistan.
At the very beginning, the authors of the document note that "the citizens of the country hoped that the new president, Serdar Berdimuhamedov , would take a more progressive path than his father, but they were cruelly mistaken ."
IPPF experts listed all the bans that independent media have been writing about for the second month: “Since April, the government has taken control over the female body to a whole new level: it introduced a de facto ban on abortion and a number of cosmetic services , forbade women to sit in the front seats of private cars, and taxi drivers to offer their services to women.”
Continuing the topic of abortion, the review authors note that access to abortion services was limited from 12 to 5 weeks. Overnight, the government promulgated the law, which was originally passed in 2015, without any public consultation, meaning it was actually passed and published in secret.
“This law effectively bans abortions, as most women at 5 weeks may not yet know they are pregnant. Some will be forced to continue a pregnancy against their will, while others will have no choice but to go through the system and get permission to have an abortion from the medical committee…Women who cannot have an abortion under these circumstances may be forced to seek a doctor who can carry out this procedure illegally, often for a lot of money, ”the authors of the document write.
The report emphasizes that "the horrific truth is that women who live in countries with restrictive abortion laws are more likely to die."
The authors of the document note that “this act of reproductive coercion is consistent with the government’s long-standing anti-legal program, based on the national idea and stereotypes, according to which women are valued only as mothers and symbols of purity, beauty and modesty. However, in reality, women are valued only for their ability to give birth , raise healthy patriots and thereby preserve traditional family values,” the review says.
The paper emphasizes that “reproductive bullying of women is supported by the propaganda of the state media, calling on women to have eight children ( in Turkmenistan, women who have given birth to 8 or more children are given the title of “Ene Myahri” (mother-heroine), and an apartment from the state is also entitled - note .ht. ), as well as the lack of sex education.”
According to the IPPF, half of Turkmen women lack access to contraceptives, and almost 60% are unable to make their own decisions about issues such as health care, contraception and consent to sex.
“ Turkmenistan has a terrible human rights record as women are treated like second-class citizens ,” the authors of the document write. “Women and girls are subjected to sexual and gender-based violence, virginity tests, forced marriages, and are prohibited from buying cigarettes and obtaining driver's licenses.”
Further, the authors of the document cite data from UNICEF and TürkmenStat (MICS), according to which 59% of women aged 15-49 in Turkmenistan believe that a husband has the right to beat his wife. Moreover, there is no domestic violence law in Turkmenistan and no national programs to prevent it.
“All this indicates that women have nowhere to wait for support and it is safer for them to remain silent and endure violence. Government agencies do not provide any statistics related to women's health and gender equality,” the survey says.
The review recalls that Freedom House constantly puts the country in the lowest positions of its Freedom in the World rating ( in 2021, Turkmenistan scored 2 points out of 100 - HT note ). In its 2020 Press Freedom Index, Reporters Without Borders ranked Turkmenistan 179th out of 180 countries ( in 2021, the country ranked 177th out of 180 - note HT ), where it was only ahead of North Korea. Civil society in Turkmenistan is assessed as "closed" - there is nothing like a real civil society in the country and the conditions for its emergence.
In conclusion, the authors of the document call on the European Union and other international organizations "not to sit idly by in the face of such egregious attacks on women's rights."
“The European Union must use all the tools at its disposal to support the sexual and reproductive health and rights of Turkmen women. We must urgently take action and put pressure on the Turkmen state so that Turkmen women are not forced to suffer in silence,” the text says.
Meanwhile, on May 13, Ashgabat hosted the Dialogue of Women of the States of Central Asia and Russia, whose participants spoke about the role of women in modern society, about its strengthening in social and political life, about respect for women's rights, ensuring gender equality and developing regional interaction.
Source: Chronicles of Turkmenistan