• Nyse Vicente

I Get Threats For Believing in Woman's Rights. A Young Man's Fight for Equality in Tajikistan.

Patriarchy is a pervasive norm in conservative Tajikistan. According to the IPHR, 97% of men believe that a woman “must tolerate violence to keep her family together,”. But for Amiran Karatsev, a Tajikistan native studying social science at the Moscow Higher School of Economics, accepting the status quo is not a choice. For him, it’s everyone’s roles to fight on behalf of the “mother’s, sisters and friends,” who are suffering silently.

1. You’re a young man in a country where it’s taboo to talk about feminism. What inspired you to start?

Women’s rights shouldn’t just be fought by one of the sexes, it’s a global issue and the way I see it, it will only be solved if we work together. Men should actively support feminism, and women should accept men’s help.

Personally, I support feminism because it’s impossible to deny the lamentable state of women’s rights in Tajikistan. Whilst women make up half the population (like most places), the kind of injustice and inequality they face is appalling. I support feminism because I want the best for my sisters, friends and acquaintances. I want the best for this country.

2. Would you argue that pushing for a feminist movement in Central Asia is harder than it is in the West?

It’s just as hard for us as it was in the West around…sixty years or so. What is happening right now in Central Asia is not new or unprecedented. Some of the issues we are facing are the same challenges women in Scandinavia and Western Europe faced before. We may be behind in this respect, and the fight for rights is only starting to pick up. But the way I see it, it’s better late than never.

3. Should Tajikistan then emulate the Western feminist movement?

I think it’s too early to even talk about that. Conversations around i.e. body positivity just isn’t on the agenda of Tajikistan activists, not because it’s unimportant, but because the situation here is more dire. In our deeply patriarchal society, we have problems that all our society should already have considered abominable: early marriage, cult of virginity, huge number of female suicides, and lack of girl’s access to education.

After these issues are solved we can move onto other areas, which are now the subjects of debate in the West?

4. Who have you been getting support from?

My family has supported me right from the get-go. Amongst readers, most of the support I get is from women who are having to face some of the issues previously mentioned, but it’s also encouraging to see that more and more men are starting to get behind the feminist movement too. Even fifteen year olds now are starting to talk about it, regardless of their gender. It’s a positive trend.

5. Have you ever received negative comments because of your beliefs? How did you react?

I get them all the time. Threats, being negatively judged and insults being thrown at you because you believe in equality are common. I’m used to seeing them all every time I open my mailbox. But honestly, this is normal, people find it hard to accept change, especially in a conservative society like Tajikistan. You shouldn’t let it stop you from speaking out.

I go by the saying “Dogs bark and the caravan moves on,”. I ignore negative comments because they don’t offend me, it’s part of the process. When fighting for progress, there will always be those against you.

6. Why do you think feminism is still taboo in many countries?

Countries with the highest social and economic development are also the ones where feminism flourishes. Look at Sweden, Finland and Norway for example. We need to fight for socio-economic progress. Countries like ours, Saudi Arabia’s etc where there is a deep human rights crisis as evidenced by the high number of female self-immolations shows that we have a long road ahead. A society in which the population is oppressed and is forbidden to talk about this is unhealthy and unhappy.

7. How can we encourage more men to join the movement?

I encourage all them who already support feminism to speak about it as loudly as possible. That way, more people will join.

ins: @amiran.krtsv


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