Thursday, February 24, 2011

Women Live in Fear During Chechnya's Islamic Revival

From VOA News:
Many Chechen women are the first in three generations to cover their heads. In the officially atheist Soviet Union, women in the Caucasus burnt their headscarves, in an effort to dissuade youth from falling under the sway of religion.

“The headscarf is a symbol of purity and worth,” says Malika Omarova, head of the Union of Chechen Women in Grozny. “When I was a student, I never wore a headscarf, not one person forced me. But, I want our women to wear them - it is in our blood. That is what makes us Chechen.”

The Russian republic of Chechnya has seen two of modern history’s most brutal separatist wars in the last two decades, with atrocities committed by both rebels and federal forces. But Mr. Kadyrov, a former rebel who changed sides after the first war, has brought a semblance of stability to Chechnya, which has seen massive investment by the Kremlin. But Mr. Kadryov’s reign has also seen a resurgence in Islamic belief and practice.

In today’s Chechnya of cafes and fashion boutiques, the mandatory headscarf symbolizes this Islamic revival.

“Chechnya is already among one of the world's most repressive societies, with the state controlling almost every aspect of daily life," wrote Jennifer Windsor of Freedom House in a report on Chechnya “With the Kremlin largely out of the picture, the culture of impunity we have seen develop under [Mr.] Kadyrov is likely to worsen, leaving the population more vulnerable to abuse.”

The battle is being played out in universities, state buildings and now in the street, where a wave of attacks last year took place on women for not wearing headscarves. Mr. Kadyrov denies his men were involved.

No comments: