Turkmenistan Puts Severe Restrictions On Women’s Appearance, Ability To Travel

ASHGABAT — In Turkmenistan, ladies are no more time permitted to put on “limited-fitting” dresses, dye their hair, or use splendor add-ons these kinds of as wrong nails or eyelashes.

In a new, Taliban-style ban, targeted traffic law enforcement in Turkmenistan also now prohibit male drivers of personal motor vehicles from choosing up girls except if they are relevant. Ladies are also banned from sitting in the entrance seat future to the driver.

Even now even more bans have been created on women of all ages acquiring cosmetic surgical treatment, this sort of as breast improvement, lip fillers, or even eyebrow microblading, which is common with quite a few young gals in Turkmenistan.

Dozens of ladies have reportedly shed their employment in latest months for allegedly having experienced breast implants or lip fillers.

The casual limitations in the tightly controlled Central Asian nation arrived into pressure this thirty day period — shortly right after new President Serdar Berdymukhammedov took business office in a sham March 12 election in which he changed his father.

In unprecedented raids in community locations and offices, law enforcement have rounded up girls carrying bogus eyelashes and/or nails and taken them to police stations, several eyewitnesses in the money, Ashgabat, and other Turkmen metropolitan areas notify RFE/RL.

Police in Ashgabat have been stopping females in the road.

In accordance to one Ashgabat resident, the ladies were being instructed to remove their beauty components and pay back a fantastic of about $140. That is 50 % of a monthly income for the regular Turkmen.

Officers also cease women of all ages on the streets and general public transport to check if they have cosmetically increased their lips, a resident of Balkan Province explained. “Police demand from customers that girls remove their confront masks to examine if they had utilized lip fillers,” the female mentioned on issue of anonymity.

In a even further restriction of women’s legal rights, the government has banned male drivers of personal cars from offering a experience to a female who is not a household member. Visitors law enforcement prevent personal vehicles carrying woman passengers and need proof that the girls are connected to the driver.

In Balkan Province, quite a few people today instructed RFE/RL that women of all ages are no longer authorized to acquire the entrance seat subsequent to drivers — both equally in taxis and personal autos. It truly is not apparent if the exact same rule was released in other components of Turkmenistan.

Drivers in Balkan Province can encounter a $2,000 great if they have a woman in the front seat, even if she is a family member, just one vehicle operator stated. After 8 p.m., motorists are not authorized to pick up a woman passenger at all, whether or not a relative or stranger, he stated.

In Turkmenistan, women — with several exceptions — are mostly prohibited from driving, though the federal government has in no way publicly issued any formal ban on women of all ages remaining guiding the wheel.

As an alternative, the authorities usually use several methods — this kind of as earning it difficult for women to obtain a driver’s license or for them to renew their expired licenses — which successfully bans them from driving.

No Announcement

There was no formal announcement or rationalization for the latest limits, which are becoming enforced by community authorities and regulation-enforcement agencies throughout the place.

Business workers say officers and firm professionals have held exclusive gatherings to go over the new regulations on women’s garments, natural beauty routines, and appearances, but declined to demonstrate the reason or present a duplicate of the document buying the ban.

Very similar constraints were introduced in the previous, although they have under no circumstances been strictly enforced.

Authorities in the Muslim-the greater part region have often inspired girls to don classic apparel, shunning equally Western-design outfits and the Islamic hijab.

A conventional outfit consists of an ankle-duration, very long-sleeved, embroidered costume, frequently built from a vibrant material. Traditional headwear for ladies is a colorful embroidered hat, when women of all ages typically put on a kerchief tied powering their heads.

Classic garments serves as a women’s uniform in the workplace, at formal conferences, and at community gatherings.

Turmen women wearing traditional dress

Turmen ladies carrying traditional costume

Some gals also even now have on Western-fashion clothing, although it truly is not prevalent between Turkmen ladies to sport clothing that are deemed too revealing, this sort of as miniskirts, shorts, sleeveless attire, or tops with plunging necklines.

The new ban usually takes the restrictions a action further, outlawing denims and any tightly fitting outfits. A girl from the metropolis of Mary told RFE/RL on April 27 that police had been deployed in the streets to detain ladies in jeans.

“Law enforcement acquire their pics, put together a report, and make the girls spend a good,” the woman reported on problem of anonymity. Identical incidents have been noted in Ashgabat and the Lebap and Balkan provinces.

‘I Hereby Pledge’

Ladies doing work in the public sector have been ordered to obey the rule not only at work, but also almost everywhere else in community, many staff explained to RFE/RL.

The gals have been instructed to indicator a published pledge that they will not put on restricted garments, dye their hair, microblade their eyebrows, or use Botox and bogus nails and eyelashes, between other various constraints. They explained the document includes a line that states, “If I embarrass my organization by not pursuing these requirements — both of those at function and outdoors do the job — I agree that I ought to be dismissed from my job.”

These who refused to indication ended up fired, a neighborhood RFE/RL correspondent described, citing many eyewitnesses.

“Every morning, officers in government businesses verify feminine employees’ dresses and physical appearance. If they find any shortcomings, they you should not allow for women to enter the place of work and they deliver them property to proper the wrongdoing,” stated an Ashgabat lady describing her own working experience.

“Also, inspectors can convert up in the workplace at any time for a lot more checks,” the female reported on May possibly 2.

In accordance to various sources in Ashgabat, at the very least 20 feminine flight attendants were being dismissed in modern months around their alleged use of Botox and lip improvement. And about 50 woman workers of the countrywide railway services had been fired for obtaining breast implants and lip fillers, the resources claimed.

RFE/RL contacted the relevant authorities — including the countrywide airlines and rail providers and different authorities organizations — for comment but gained no reaction.

The bans have led dozens of beauty salons to close down throughout the country soon after receiving warnings from police against giving “banned” techniques and providers to shoppers.

RFE/RL correspondents reported that regulation enforcement businesses raided splendor salons in Mary Province in early April and threatened the proprietors with hefty fines and 15 times in jail if they broke the new rules.

Last Straw?

Protests and public criticism of governing administration insurance policies are particularly scarce in Turkmenistan, wherever opponents generally stop up in prison or are forcibly put in psychiatric hospitals.

But some activists and other Turkmen say the most recent limits could be the previous straw for people’s persistence. Turkmen have been sad with many years of authorities clampdowns on their rights and freedoms, though the place has also been mired for many many years in a critical economical disaster that has led to serious food items shortages and skyrocketing unemployment and inflation.

In Balkan Province, various girls advised RFE/RL that they experienced experienced enough and wouldn’t rule out mass anti-federal government protests. “The new president turned out to be a female-hater,” 1 Balkan resident reported. “There is no gender equality in Turkmenistan at all anymore.”

“Turkmen girls are particularly unhappy with these limits,” explained Dursoltan Tagaeva, a popular Turkmen activist who life in self-exile in Turkey. “Even individuals who didn’t aid [opposition activists] are now turning out to be escalating vocal and have started voicing their unhappiness with this predicament,” she advised RFE/RL on May perhaps 2.

In a exceptional incident in Ashgabat, two outraged gals refused to shell out a great and begun a loud argument with a law enforcement officer who stopped them in excess of their untrue eyelashes on April 27, an eyewitness told RFE/RL.

“The women of all ages demanded the policeman display them a copy of the document that bans [false eyelashes],” the witness explained.

Written by Farangis Najibullah dependent on reporting by RFE/RL correspondents in Ashgabat and the provinces of Mary, Balkan, and Lebap