Turkmen Spouse Price Drop!

by Nathan Hamm on 6/10/2005 · 3 comments

Turkmenbashi has dropped the $50,000 “deposit” required for all foreigners who want to marry Turkmen citizens. But it’s still not a piece of cake, and a new decree was issued after the cash and house ownership requirements were dropped.

This one requires Turkmen citizens and their prospective foreign spouses to sign a contract determining how their property will be divided in case of divorce. As with the previous decree, his aim, Turkmenbashi said, was to protect Turkmens from unscrupulous spouses.

Niyazov’s new decree was announced on national television yesterday.

“In order to protect the rights of Turkmen citizens who intend to marry a foreign citizen or person with no citizenship, President Niyazov has signed a decree. Attached to this official document is a sample of an approved marriage contract,” the male broadcaster said.

Now, as before, a foreigner wishing to marry a Turkmen citizen must live in Turkmenistan for at least a year before the wedding. There is also a mandatory three-month engagement period following the formal submission of the marriage application.

This still means that the foreigners most likely to marry Turkmen citizens, Uzbeks who live along the border, face huge hurdles to getting a Turkmen bride.

Even without the official fee, Turkmen women remain expensive brides. The tradition of qalin, or dowry, is so entrenched in society it remained common practice even during the Soviet era.

And it isn’t cheap. For qalin, parents usually ask prospective husbands for 36 sheep, 36 dresses or their equivalent in fabric, at least four boxes of vodka, and $600.

Because of the dowry cost [Does anyone know the average dowry in Uzbekistan?] and the remaining legal hurdles, some are opting for the cheaper route–bribing border guards and kidnapping their brides.

Update: CASCFEN has the details of the new decree.

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– author of 2991 posts on 17_PersonNotFound.

Nathan is the founder and Principal Analyst for Registan, which he launched in 2003. He was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Uzbekistan 2000-2001 and received his MA in Central Asian Studies from the University of Washington in 2007. Since 2007, he has worked full-time as an analyst, consulting with private and government clients on Central Asian affairs, specializing in how socio-cultural and political factors shape risks and opportunities and how organizations can adjust their strategic and operational plans to account for these variables. More information on Registan's services can be found here, and Nathan can be contacted via Twitter or email.

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Curzon June 11, 2005 at 1:38 am

How is this enforcable? I mean, what’s to stop a Turkmen bride fleeing to Uzbekistan, Russia, or the US and saying “yah boo sux” to Turkmenbashi? Will Turkmen special police forces conduct overseas assasinations? Will families at home be forced to pay?

Nathan June 11, 2005 at 5:17 pm

It’s very enforceable. Leaving Turkmenistan requires an exit visa (and if it’s anything like Uzbekistan, bribes to those who give them). If they illegally cross a land border, then they have to deal with bribing border guards.

If they’re already overseas, there’s not much that the Turkmen government can do of course. But I’d imagine one wouldn’t be able to go back to Turkmenistan.

Tim Newman June 12, 2005 at 2:00 pm

I can assure your readers that Russian brides in Dubai cost far more than a one off dowry of a crate of vodka and $600.

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