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Tajikistan's Migrant "Widows"

Once a husband decides to make his temporary stay abroad more permanent, there is little that wives can do to secure maintenance.
By Mahasti Dustmurod











While many households in Tajikistan are supported by the money sent home from family members working abroad, mass labour migration also breaks up many marriages.

Around one million people from the Central Asian state spent time working abroad last year, most of them men and the majority in Russia. Many go home for the winter, but others stay on from year to year, put down roots and divorce their wives in Tajikistan.

The International Organisation for Migration estimates that there are now 250,000 of these women, left to care for any children with no money coming from the absent husband in any more.

Iroda, from the capital Dushanbe, took matters into her own hands by applying to Russia’s immigration agency and requesting her husband’s deportation on the grounds that he was not contributing to the household. He is now back home and things are going well, although he is still unaware that she was behind his deportation.

Nodira Abdulloeva, a lawyer with the Human Rights Centre, explains that Tajikistan’s domestic legislation is ambiguous – the Family Code requires spouses to “fulfil their obligations” including maintenance payments, although there is no legal provision for stopping an adult family member from leaving the country or forcing them to come back.

For more on these issues, see Tajik Labour Migration Boosts Divorce Rates.

Mahasti Dustmurod  is an IWPR contributor in Tajikistan.

This audio programme went out in Russian and Tajik on national radio stations in Tajikistan. It was produced under two IWPR projects: Empowering Media and Civil Society Activists to Support Democratic Reforms in Tajikistan, funded by the European Union, and Strengthening Capacities, Bridging Divides in Central Asia, funded by the Foreign Ministry of Norway. The contents of this article are the sole responsibility of IWPR and can in no way be taken to reflect the views of either the European Union or the Norwegian foreign ministry.  

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