Kyrgyzstan: Krygyzstan considers banning girls from traveling abroad


Rights activists in Kyrgyzstan are campaigning against a parliamentary proposal to bar women under the age of 23 from travelling abroad without their parents’ consent. 

In a country where hundreds of thousands of migrant workers go to Russia and other states every year, supporters of the restrictions say they just want to protect vulnerable young women from the risk of abuse. Irgal Kadyralieva, the parliamentarian who drafted the proposal, told legislators on March 4 that in some cases, the right to free movement had to be outweighed by other considerations.

The Bishkek Feminist Collective SQ is campaigning against a move its members see as unconstitutional and discriminatory on both sex and age grounds. For opponents of the plan, it seems perverse to impose restrictions on young women on the grounds that they are potential victims, not perpetrators of crimes.

Aida Kasymalieva of the Kyrgyz service of RFE/RL told IWPR about the background to this unusual proposal. She has reported on cases where female Kyrgyz migrant workers have been attacked by their male counterparts who accuse them of “loose behaviour”. Last year she broke the story of one such assault, on a woman called Sapargul, which was filmed and posted on the internet.

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