Bareheaded women in ads targeted in Chechnya
Summary of story from Reuters, November 4, 2011
Several businesses in Russia’s Chechnya region were ordered this week to cover up the bare heads of women in their advertisements, in what a local government source said was the latest assertion of Muslim customs by the authorities.
Moscow relies heavily on Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov to keep insurgents in the area in check and maintain a shaky peace.
But analysts and rights groups say that in return, Kadyrov, a devout Sufi Muslim, is allowed to enforce his vision of Islam, at times curbing women’s rights and other civil freedoms otherwise guaranteed by Russia’s constitution.
Recently a band of men whom hairdressers described as being dressed in the uniform of local security forces stormed the “Edem” salon in the center of the regional capital Grozny, demanding they cover up the hair of two women in their advertisement.
Last year women not wearing headscarves on city streets in Chechnya suffered paintball attacks, igniting anger from women who said being forced to dress a certain way violated their rights.
Kadyrov later said he was grateful to the attackers.
Four years ago he issued an edict that said women must don headscarves to enter state buildings. Rights groups say it is a violation of Russian law, but the edict is strictly followed.
Rights workers and some locals fear that Vladimir Putin’s return to the presidency will strengthen Kadyrov’s grip on Chechnya.
“There had never been this sort of treatment toward women on the government level before. This all started when Kadyrov came to power (in 2007),” said Raisa Borshchigova, 31, who became an independent rights activist after she was shot at with paintball pellets.
An anonymous source in the regional government said that the attacks on advertisements had been ordered by local authorities, but a spokesman denied Kadyrov had issued such an order.