This is a guest post from Alisher Abdug’ofurov, a young ethnic Uzbek Kyrgyzstani citizen living in Jalal-abad. He wrote to share his opinion on proposed new legislation restricting women twenty-two and under from traveling abroad without special permissions. We look forward to hearing more from him in the future.
Yesterday on June 12 Kyrgyzstan’s parliament adopted a very interesting and–I would say– strange resolution. According to the legislation, now girls who are under 22 years cannot leave the country without the permission of their parents.
The initiator of this document, Yrgal Kadyralieva (Social Democratic Party of Kyrgyzstan), has stated that it was developed to preserve the moral values, to prevent a demographic crisis, limit the risks of exposure to human trafficking and sexual violence, and protect the reproductive health of citizens. According to her, the state must protect its young citizens from various dangers. In particular, Kadyralieva reports that there are cases where young girls from Kyrgyzstan gave birth outside the country and leave the kids in the street.
We will not even talk about the fact that the resolution directly violates constitutionally guaranteed rights. The decision is already quite strange, I’ve got enough questions on the resolution itself.
I wonder why they decided to impose a restriction up to 22 years, and not until 21 or 23, for example. I mean that even after 22 years there is no guarantee that a woman going abroad will not be subject to abuse. Or after 22 is a woman “unfit for sale,” if we talk about the prevention of human trafficking? And if the parents give permission to travel, does that mean the girls cannot be sold or raped in another country?
This document can also be considered from the point of view of gender discrimination, as the resolution prohibits only girls from leaving. But on the same questions, are young men fully protected from the risks and dangers?
The deputy says herself that the resolution does not prohibit anyone traveling abroad, but only introduces some restrictions in the form of parental permission. I don’t don’t know about Ms. Kydyralieva, but for me a 22 year old woman is old enough to be responsible for her own actions, and even more to solve problems on her own. In addition, I’m not sure that parental permission will change something because the parents also have no idea of what challenges may face their daughter abroad. Maybe I’m wrong, but I think that with parental permission and the resolution the government wants to absolve themselves of the responsibility to protect its citizens abroad. If something happens with someone they can say that they were told about the risks and dangers, and if despite this parents gave permission they will have to solve their own problems.
Here I can add, too, that this resolution may give a way for corruption to increase: now border guards might have a chance referring to the document to extort money from women wishing to travel abroad.
Another interesting point is that this resolution aims only to “protect” women who want to go abroad. The fate of girls who are subject to the risks listed in the text seems not so interesting to our elected representatives. After all, here at home in Kyrgyzstan too many girls are subjected to various forms of violence. Many girls married by their parents’ permission become victims of domestic violence.
The resolution, which was accepted yesterday, has already received many negative comments. For example, the Ombudsman of the Kyrgyz Republic Tursunbek Akun said that the document is not legal because it is unconstitutional and violates human rights. A number of human rights defenders and non-governmental organizations have also expressed their outrage at the adoption of this resolution and said that they intend to draft a letter to the president.
At the end, I would like to say a few words about the initiator of this document. Personally, I feel hurt that the initiator of this resolution is woman. In many countries, female legislators are fighting for women’s rights. But here in Kyrgyzstan they are the initiators of such discriminatory documents. This raises the question of what good it did to make changes to the election code that forced political parties to nominate women candidates–through which Yrgal Kydyralieva today sitting in the deputy chair. When these changes were made the initiators hoped that more women in parliament would address problems of women more widely and protect women’s’ rights. But now they are making laws that violate them instead.
UPDATE: Today on the website of parliament the legislation was posted without mention of age or parental permission. There only general issues to protect migrants. Maybe it is result of such negative reaction from activists and the public.