Institute for War and Peace Reporting | Giving Voice, Driving Change

Legalised Prostitution in Tajikistan?

By Orzujon Bedimogov











Two different approaches to dealing with prostitution in southern Tajikistan reflect fundamental disagreements about how best to deal with the problem.

The department for women’s affairs in the southern city of Qorghan Teppa has written to the Tajik parliament asking it to approve plans to set up a shelter where destitute women could live after being detained and charged with prostitution. The provincial government, meanwhile, has asked legislators to increase the penalties for engaging in the sex trade, so that it would count as a crime rather than just a petty offence.

The number of people detained in police raids in Qorghan Teppa suggests prostitution is growing at exponential rates.

Women’s affairs departmental head Jonuna Kholboboeva says the women involved typically come to the city from rural areas, often after being widowed, or after their husbands throw them and their children out of the house.

Other experts agree that girls married off at around 15 and then abandoned are the most vulnerable group, with no education and few job prospects.

Some lawmakers in Tajikistan say legalising prostitution is the only way to stop organised crime reaping huge profits from it.

In this conservative Muslim society, however, many oppose the plan on moral grounds, saying it would encourage more women into the sex trade.

Orzujon Bedimogov is an IWPR-trained radio reporter in southern Tajikistan.

The audio programme, in Tajik and Russian, went out on national radio stations in Tajikistan, as part of IWPR project work funded by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

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