Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Chechnya's Kadyrov Condones 'Honor Killings'

The one thing that can be said for communist rule under the Soviets was the fact that they managed to maintain control over the Islamist elements in their midst. No forced veils for women, no gender separation, women had equal rights. Yes, there were other major issues regarding lack of freedom (including religious), but that lack was not imposed by religion.  But as is happening in Africa and the Middle East, the rise of hardline Islam in Muslim-majority countries that used to be secular, like Chechnya (when it was part of the former Soviet Union),  is becoming problematic.

In fact, over the past five years, things have gotten dire for women in Chechnya under the leadership of President Ramzan Kadyrov, whose Mufti, former pro-separatist father, Akhmad Kadyrov, was president for a year until he was blown up in 2004. Women are being forced to wear the hijab (veil), there is government support for polygamy, alcohol is banned and now the Chechen government has formally condoned 'honor killings' against women. In fact they are advocating it. Women are turning up dead all over Chechnya, and Kadyrov's response: they had "loose morals" and so they deserved to die. That's because Kadyrov believes women should remain barefoot and pregnant (a typical fundamentalist Muslim belief) since women are the property of their husbands.
According to Human Rights Watch (HRW) Kadyrov has been quoted as saying:
I have the right to criticize my wife. She doesn’t [have the right to criticize me]. With us [in Chechen society], a wife is a housewife. A woman should know her place. A woman should give her love to us [men]… She would be [man’s] property. And the man is the owner. Here, if a woman does not behave properly, her husband, father, and brother are responsible. According to our tradition, if a woman fools around, her family members kill her… That’s how it happens, a brother kills his sister or a husband kills his wife… As a president, I cannot allow for them to kill. So, let women not wear shorts…

Here in Chechnya if a woman is running around, if a man is running around with her, then the both of them are killed. According to the information available, there was a woman who was “working” with the killed [women] – she wanted to take them away from the [Chechen] Republic, [she] was in the process of obtaining travel passports for them in order to sell them to brothels [abroad]. It’s being said that the women’s relatives [found out and] killed them… I’m simply talking about [our] customs. Ask anyone, even the youngest boy, “What are you gonna do if your sister starts running around?” Anyone will tell you, “I’ll kill her!”

He has also been quoted as saying he wants to make Chechnya “more Islamic than the Islamists.”

Even though Kadyrov is credited with bringing some stability to Chechnya, and was actually nominated by Vladimir Putin for president, he obviously has no respect for Russian law.

Some observers say Mr. Kadyrov’s attempt to impose Islamic law violates the Russian Constitution, which guarantees equal rights for women and a separation of church and state.

“We are a traditional, conservative society, but the government has gone overboard,” said Lipkhan Bazaeva, head of the Women's Dignity Center, a nongovernmental organization promoting women’s rights in Grozny. “They are declaring unacceptable limits on women — as an individual, she has no rights even if her husband beats her, despite Russian laws.”
And the human rights violations that are rampant in Chechnya will remain so, since most activists are too afraid to do anything about it after Natasha Estemirova was murdered.
“You hear about these cases almost every day,” said a local human rights defender, who asked that her name not be used out of fear for her safety. “It is hard for me to investigate this topic, yet I worked on it with [human rights activist] Natasha [Estemirova] for a while. But, I can’t anymore. I am too scared now. I’ve almost given up, really.”

Estemirova, who angered Chechen authorities with reports of torture, abductions and extrajudicial killings, was found in the woods in 2009 in the neighboring region of Ingushetia with gunshot wounds to the head and chest. Her killer or killers have not been found.
But it hasn't stopped the young ones from flouting the strict rules.
Milana, a ninth-grader in Grozny, wears thick eyeliner, dons tight miniskirts, smokes cigarettes and dates boys: all things a proper Muslim girl is forbidden to do in Chechnya.

She said she has heard it from her father countless times: A Chechen girl who loses her virginity before marriage is a prostitute, and Allah will punish her.

“If only my parents knew some of the things I did,” she said with a giggle. “My parents are too strict with me, but it is like that here.”

Analysts say dating can be an escape for teenagers such as Milana who often live double lives.

“It is a great temptation to break from tradition when they are away from their family, said Ms. Bazaeva. “They have a good time, but it is not without consequences, not in Chechnya.”
Some kids marry early to get around the strict rules, like 20-year-old Abu-Khadzh Idrisov who got married at age 14 so he could have sex. Divorced a year later, he remarried at 18 to a girl he kidnapped- a common tradition in Pakistan.
He spotted his future wife at a park in Grozny and, with the help of his friends, kidnapped her.

“When I married her, I honestly knew only two things: her name and the school she studied at. We talked together once,” he recalled. “But we have traditions and extremely strict rules in Chechnya, and you can’t just ignore them. I carry my family’s name, and if I tarnish it, I will have problems.”
I suppose it's easy for a family belonging to a religion that encourages having lots of babies to pop off one of its own. What's the loss of one or two children when they probably have plenty more.

Source: Washington Times

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