Saturday, August 20, 2016

Outrage over Female Circumcision Must Not Distract Attention from Other Problems of Women in North Caucasus, Rabadanova Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, August 20 – Mufti Ismail Berdiyev’s suggestion that Muslim women should undergo female circumcision even though it is not mandated by shariat has infuriated Muslims who believe that the shariat law should determine everything as well as both Muslims and non-Muslims who believe female genital mutilation is inhuman practice that must be stamped out.

            But Zaira Rabadanova, a journalist for “Kavkazskaya politika,” says the discussion about his words has “successfully distracted attention” both from several recent scandals in Daghestan and from “other burning problems of Muslim women of the republic which people don’t like to talk about” (

            Among these, she says, are kidnappings and disappearances, torture, and police raids on mosques and sports facilities of the republic and more generally poverty, the lack of adequate medical care, widespread corruption, and an increasingly repressive political environment in advance of the September 18 Duma election.

            Rabandanova points to the demonstrations women in Daghestan have organized demanding that the authorities release or at least provide information about their sons or husbands who have been arrested or simply have been “disappeared” – protests that have been going on at least since 2007 but which have not attracted much outside attention.

            Now, she continues, it appears that the authorities are targeting not only mosques but even sports clubs, a development that hits families and thus women in Daghestan even harder.

            She notes that last year, Germany’s Heinrich Boll Foundation released a major report on the problems of women in Daghestan, Chechnya, Ingushetia, and Kabardino-Balkaria ( That report identified poverty and poor medical care as the most important issues, but it received much less media attention than the mufti’s recent remarks.

            Russian experts too have talked about the horrific state of medical care in Daghestan.  Denis Sokolov of the Russian Academy of Economics and State Service says that in some districts, there are no doctors and people are dying as a result of the absence of adequate medical facilities (

            In addition, the Presidential Human Rights Council whose members visited Daghestan earlier this summer found that Russian siloviki are been targeting women related to militants and routinely violating their rights in a wide variety of ways with absolutely no justification at all, Rabandanova says.

            None of these problems gets much attention, she says, and concludes by asking rhetorically, “what problems of Daghestani women should be talked about first?” 

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