The rights of women disempowered. The Turkmen authorities concerned over the appearance and moral image of women.

by Kira Kramer

The authorities of Turkmenistan are again imposing restrictions on women’s appearance. This new wave of “censoring” female appearance began in early April.

The provinces were the first to launch the campaign.In the city of Bairamaly, Mary velayat April Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (Radio “Azatlyk”) reported on 12 that the police had warned owners of beauty parlours that they might be fined and arrested for 15 days if they provide the services of lip augmentation, botox injections and lash and nail extensions.

Turkmenistan has banned services offered by beauty parlours, which, as viewed by the authorities, imply “invasive procedures”, the news outlet Turkmen News confirmed on 19 April. They emphasized that this could lead to financial losses incurred by beauty shops.

Moreover, according to the news outlet, schools and secondary vocational educational establishments of Turkmenabat, as well as schools in the cities of Dyanev and Seidi, Lebap velayat had received instructions from Ashgabat, pursuant to which girls need to refrain from using make-up, dying hair, manicure and pedicure and tattoos.

Correspondents of “Chronicles of Turkmenstan” report that administration of higher and secondary vocational educational establishments of Ashgabat are organizing meetings with female students with regard to observing national traditions.

Last week similar meetings were held in the departments of Turkmenistan’s State University named after Magtymguly.Female students were warned that “it is not appropriate to have their hair dyed, make permanent eyebrow, have lashes and nails extended, lips augmented or wear bright make-up”.

They are threatened with expulsion for failure to observe the requirements.

All female students are obliged to wear caps, national dress and dons (gowns) of the same colours (typically, red). All schoolgirls also wear the same green uniform.

On 26 April Radio “Azatlyk” reported that not only beauty parlours and universities but also state-run organizations are campaigning for “the appropriate steterotype” of a typical Turkmen woman.

In particular, specialized inspection groups urged school and kindergarten teachers as well as healthcare practitioners of Turkmenabat to wear only national dress – long-sleeved dresses and scarves.Under threat of termination they were told to dye their hair back to dark colours and remove lash and nail extensions.

Inspectors paid visits to municipal schools to check the length of schoolgirls’ nails and barred them from wearing make-up.

It is also reported that meetings devoted to ethics and respect of national traditions are being held with female staff in state institutions of Mary velayat.

It should be emphasized that these guidelines are generally not legally binding and therefore the local authorities decide for themselves what restrictions to impose. Furthermore, if the head of state is present during a clean-up campaign and a sports event women then also have to wear long dresses.

As regards previous examples restricting women’s rights, in the spring of 2018 women employed in public sector organizations of Ashgabat were barred from using nail polish and nail extensions, bleached hair and wearing gold jewelry. They were also advised to observe the national dress code.

Following this, Turkmenistan’s customs authorities imposed a ban on imports of hair dyes of light colours and chemical agents for hair bleaching and highlights.

At the special meetings which were held in the provinces, inter alia, officials told teachers and educators that historical and cultural traditions of Turkmen should be honoured and the national heritage should be preserved, implying clothing and appearance.

In addition, an unofficial ban on the issuance and extension of driving licenses to women is occasionally exercised. It was last recorded in late 2020. In January 2021 the Ashgabat police resumed accepting applications for extending women’s driving licenses.

In the autumn of 2020 owners of state-run stores were barred from selling cigarettes to women in Turkmen national dresses and scarves.

It should be pointed out that currently officials personally report to President Serdar Berdymukahmmedov on working with women and state-run media outlets provide coverage of meetings with women.

For example, according to the state-run news outlet TDH, at the Cabinet session held on 14 April Chairperson of Majlis Gulshat Mammedova informed the head of state that “on 6-8 April representatives of the Milli Gengesh, law enforcement authorities, public associations held an awareness raising and propaganda events for girls and women in Balkan velayat, which were devoted to Turkmen national traditions, family values as well as ethical standards and upbringing.

The news outlet “Turkmenistan: golden age” also reported that on 18 April a meeting was held in Turkmenistan’s State Energy Institute for female instructors and students, entitled “Standards of Turkmen national traditions, the sanctity of marriage and family and etiquette”.

The meeting also brought together representatives of Turkmenistan’s National Council and the Central Council of Women’s Association as well as Majlis members.

None of these restrictions prevent Turkmenistan from reporting on the observance of women’s rights at various international events.In July 2018 the Turkmen government presented a report to CEDAW (the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women) at the UN in Geneva.

Turkmenistan’s representatives gave vague answers to questions citing laws without providing specific examples.In an attempt to solicit a clear answer, experts had repeated their questions several times.

When addressing “hard-hitting” questions, permanent Representative of Turkmenistan to the United Nations Office at Geneva Atageldi Haljanov took the floor and assured those in attendance that “Turkmenistan is undertaking measures in this direction and that the requested information will be provided later in writing”.

In 2018 the TIHR prepared an alternative report to the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women.

Among examples of flagrant discrimination and arbitrary decrees were the ban on the sale of cigarettes to females; the refusal to issue and extend driving licenses for female drivers; restrictions on the choice of clothes and make-up for women.

Based on the results of the session, members of the UN Committee took into account women’s problems documented in other reports by human rights organizations, and drew the attention of Turkmenistan to a range of discriminatory practices, including compliance with dress code and the ban on dying hair and using nail polish imposed on women employed in the public sector.

Turkmenistan has repeatedly organized forums and workshops devoted to women’s rights in collaboration with the OSCE Centre in Ashgabat.At one of the events Chairperson of Majlis Gulshat Mammedova emphasized that “women are represented in all branches of power in Turkmenistan and sensible gender policy is bringing about good results”.

In December 2020 the Turkmen government adopted the 2021-2025 National Action Plan for Gender Equality, which established national goals, objectives and priorities to further facilitate and promote gender equality in all spheres of life, nationally and locally.

In April 2021 Turkmenistan became a member of the Executive Board of the UN Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN-Women) for 2020-2024.

Thus, the government regularly raises women’s rights, adopts relevant documents and even participates in high-profile international events devoted to gender equality, but in reality the situation in Turkmenistan is completely different and it is premature to speak about the observance of women’s rights.

The cult of patriarchal society where women have no rights to smoke, drive a car, choose clothes or use make-up is still imposed by the Turkmen government.Regrettably, the new President has not only changed this trend but, on the contrary, initiated a new wave of discrimination which infringes women’s rights.

The post The rights of women disempowered.

The Turkmen authorities concerned over the appearance and moral image of women. first appeared on Chronicles of Turkmenistan.

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