Turkmen women victims of 'presidential misogyny'
Situation has worsened with Serdar Berdymuhamedov's rise to power, replacing his father Gurbanguly. Tribal rules imposed and interpreted by the president weigh heavily. "Women must respect and defer to their husbands".
Moscow (AsiaNews) - After the presidential change with the rise to power of Serdar, Gurbanguly Berdymuhamedov's son, restrictions on women's public life continue to increase in Turkmenistan, with an unusual progression of "presidential misogyny".
Women are forbidden to use cosmetics and have cosmetic surgery, manicures and hair colouring, wear tight-fitting clothes and jeans, drive cars and ride in the front passenger seat. Abortions are also forbidden in Turkmenistan. Women are often stopped, fined and even fired from their jobs if they do not comply with official regulations.
In the state-run magazine Neitralnyj Turkmenistan, an article appeared on traditional conversation etiquette, where the basic rule is that 'the woman must respect her husband with great deference', which appears almost like a legal injunction, given the authority of the publication. The article is part of a series of recommendations on national customs and codes of conduct of the country, taken from the widely circulated publications of the 'Chronicles of Turkmenistan'.
The rules concern how it is appropriate to greet people and talk to adults, and the article further specifies how a wife should address her husband: 'The verbal etiquette of Turkmenistan commits the wife to respectful deference to her husband, so women should not often call their spouse by his name and almost always in conversations they should address him by the third person'.
Men are reminded that "since ancient centuries" they have been educated "in frankness, courage and responsibility", and the manifestation of their feelings and emotions "is sufficiently expressed with the expression of the gaze and minimal gestures", which must in any case be "as rare as possible". Children according to 'the rules of etiquette' must talk to their father 'only when standing, regardless of the situation', while 'contradictory parental remarks are absolutely inadmissible'.
The ideal of national colloquial etiquette is that of 'a moderate tone, without long pauses and visible signs of a lack of language propriety in the expression of one's ideas', for which, according to the article, 'the ability to use phraseological forms, aphorisms or compositions of popular linguistic creativity' is indispensable, which are recommended as 'worthy of imitation', especially when spoken by influential personalities in the life of the nation.
These are not rules of religious, Islamic or other origin, but 'national traditions' imposed and interpreted by the president and his family circle, according to a criterion that appears more tribal than historical or ethical, typical of Turkmen society.