HRW: Chechen Women Abused If Refuse to Cover Head
Russia has been criticised for letting puppet regime in Chechnya impose a compulsory Islamic dress code for women in a report by Human Rights Watch.
The 40-page report, “You Dress According to Their Rules: Enforcement of an Islamic Dress Code for Women in Chechnya,” documents acts of violence, harassment, and threats against women in Chechnya to intimidate them into wearing a headscarf or dressing more “modestly,” in long skirts and sleeves to cover their limbs.
The report includes testimonies from dozens of Chechen women who were threatened or even attacked with paintballs by young men enforcing the ‘virtue campaign’. The rights group says some attacks involved gang members of puppet regime in Russian occupied Chechen Republic of Ichkeria.
From June 2010 through September 2010, dozens of women were targeted in paintball attacks for not donning headscarves or because their skirts or sleeves were not long enough. And Ramzan Kadyrov had praised the paintball attackers, and leaflets later surfaced warning that women who failed to wear headscarves could face “more persuasive measures”.
One of the victims, identified as Louiza, told the rights group that she and a friend were attacked while walking down Putin Avenue in Grozny on a hot day last June, wearing skirts a little below the knee, blouses with sleeves a bit above the elbow and no headscarves. Suddenly a car without a license plate pulled up, its side window rolled down and a gun barrel pointed at them.
“I thought the gun was real and when I heard the shots I thought: ‘This is death,'” she recalled in the report. “I felt something hitting me in the chest and was sort of thrown against the wall of a building.
“The sting was awful, as if my breasts were being pierced with a red-hot needle, but I wasn’t fainting or anything and suddenly noticed some strange green splattering on the wall and this huge green stain was also expanding on my blouse.”
The 25-year-old woman said her friend was hit on her legs and stumbled to the ground. Men dressed in the black uniform of Kadyrov’s gang members looked out of the car’s windows, laughing and sneering.
“It’s only at home that I could examine the bruise and it was so huge and ugly,” Louiza recalled. “Since then, I don’t dare leave home without a headscarf.”
Another target, a 29-year-old woman whose name was not given, said she was walking down the same central avenue in June with two other women, all without headscarves, when two cars stopped nearby and bearded men in black uniforms fired paintball guns at them, screaming: “Cover your hair, harlots!”
The woman told Human Rights Watch that she knows 12 women who were shot at with paintball guns in June. Overall, at least 50 or 60 women were targeted, the rights group said.
Threatening leaflets also appeared on the streets of Grozny, warning women that those who fail to wear headscarves could face “more persuasive measures.” The women interviewed by Human Rights Watch interpreted that as a threat to use real weapons.
“The enforcement of a compulsory Islamic dress code on women in Chechnya violates their rights to private life, personal autonomy, freedom of expression, and freedom of religion, thought, and conscience,” the HRW report says.
The entire report can be download HERE.