Women at a legal information session
/Photo: Helvetas


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Over the last quarter century, Tajik people have suffered from horrible civil war, economic collapse and a massive labour migration following the break-up of the Soviet Union and independence from it. Many women were left with no support, since their husbands and fathers had either been killed or had migrated to work in Russia. Forty-nine per cent of Tajik women live in the rural areas. They are especially challenged by limited access to justice and hostile gender customs. The “Access to Justice” project is to change this.

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, women in Tajikistan have faced the reassertion and adoption of conservative social norms regarding acceptable gender roles. As a result, in rural areas in particular, women’s access to education, employment and justice has been drastically reduced, while the control of men over women has increased. When it comes to education, inheritance, land rights and employment, boys enjoy more advantages, while girls leave the family as soon as they get married, and often live with their husband in his family’s house.

Where help is needed most: family rights, property rights, domestic violence

Another harmful gender custom is male polygamy, commonly spread in rural areas. Polygamy is prohibited by law in Tajikistan. However, men tend to initiate the religious marriage (‘nikoh’) with their second or third wives. Religious marriage is not recognised as a legal marriage by Tajik legislation. Moreover, it does not protect women’s fundamental rights as stipulated in Tajik law.

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