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2017-07-07 | Women's Rights

Uzbekistan acts against illegal marriages


An Uzbekistani couple celebrate their wedding in Khiva last September. Uzbekistan is stepping up action against illegal marriages. [Maksim Yeniseyev]

An Uzbekistani couple celebrate their wedding in Khiva last September. Uzbekistan is stepping up action against illegal marriages. [Maksim Yeniseyev]

By Maksim Yeniseyev

TASHKENT -- Uzbekistani authorities are mounting a battle against polygamy and working to protect women from illegal marriages.

The effort is meant to protect women from exploitation.

Even though polygamy is prohibited by law, some men have managed to have multiple wives in Uzbekistan.

"Some rich men have several wives," Nodira Azizova, a spokeswoman for the Women's Committee of Uzbekistan branch in Olmazor District, Tashkent city, told Caravanserai. "Individual cases do exist ... Some cases are registered officially [despite the illegality], and others through nikah [the Islamic wedding rite], which imams perform secretly for couples."

Uzbekistani law prescribes punishment for a polygamist of up to three years of imprisonment and a fine equalling 50 to 150 monthly wage installments. The law does not penalise the women in such cases.

Accountability for rogue clerics

Presently, though, the law says nothing about clerics who perform nikah to facilitate polygamy. President Shavkat Mirziyoyev wishes to fix that loophole.

Speaking to a nationwide audience of clerics at a June 15 video conference in Tashkent, President Shavkat Mirziyoyev cited the existence of polygamous marriages that clerics bless by performing nikah.

Soon the country will have a law making clerics liable to punishment if they certify an illegal marriage through nikah, he said.

"A bill that is being worked out now prescribes prosecution for any religious figure who marries a couple without state certification," he said, according to the TV channel Uzbekistan.

Observers like Azizova hope to see that law enacted soon, as they consider polygamy a violation of women's rights.

"These women are not only breaking the law," said Azizova. "They're socially vulnerable and lack all rights and protections."

TASHKENT -- Uzbekistani authorities are mounting a battle against polygamy and working to protect women from illegal marriages.

The effort is meant to protect women from exploitation.

Even though polygamy is prohibited by law, some men have managed to have multiple wives in Uzbekistan.

"Some rich men have several wives," Nodira Azizova, a spokeswoman for the Women's Committee of Uzbekistan branch in Olmazor District, Tashkent city, told Caravanserai. "Individual cases do exist ... Some cases are registered officially [despite the illegality], and others through nikah [the Islamic wedding rite], which imams perform secretly for couples."

Uzbekistani law prescribes punishment for a polygamist of up to three years of imprisonment and a fine equalling 50 to 150 monthly wage installments. The law does not penalise the women in such cases.

Accountability for rogue clerics

Presently, though, the law says nothing about clerics who perform nikah to facilitate polygamy. President Shavkat Mirziyoyev wishes to fix that loophole.

Speaking to a nationwide audience of clerics at a June 15 video conference in Tashkent, President Shavkat Mirziyoyev cited the existence of polygamous marriages that clerics bless by performing nikah.

Soon the country will have a law making clerics liable to punishment if they certify an illegal marriage through nikah, he said.

"A bill that is being worked out now prescribes prosecution for any religious figure who marries a couple without state certification," he said, according to the TV channel Uzbekistan.

Observers like Azizova hope to see that law enacted soon, as they consider polygamy a violation of women's rights.

"These women are not only breaking the law," said Azizova. "They're socially vulnerable and lack all rights and protections."

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8 Comments

Гуля | 2017-08-28

I am delighted, and say thanks to our president. I fully support his decision, because I have a niece who has been tolerating betrayal by her husband for a year now. They have three kids turned into living orphans. He replaced his wife with a personal secretary. Apparently, his wife failed to satisfy him. And without getting divorced, he wants to follow nikokh, and maybe he already has.

Насиба | 2017-08-21

There is a guy who serves in the hakimiyat in Fergana. He fools women, promising to marry them with nikakh. He also works on commission sending people to Haj. He was born in 1987 (give or take a year). Tall and bulky. His wife doesn't know [about that] and lives with [her] parents. He prefers women ten or more years older than he is, and lays hands on their property. I suppose that these kinds of people should be punished first.

Ольга | 2017-08-19

I fully support the President's decision. [They] start two, sometimes three families... and don't think how are they going to feed their children. Sometimes eight-year-old children are hungry and have no clothes, and forced to work at marketplaces. Parents can't arm them with a decent education. [I feel] sorry for the children.

Нр | 2017-08-09

Finally, they are doing something about it. If a woman does not satisfy [a man] they should just get a divorce - why cause everyone so much pain (the first wife, the kids). It turns out men are so greedy... Before getting married, people should seriously think about whether everything is going to be all right. Marriages entered into to satisfy the needs of the parents are the ones that most often fall apart. Something needs to be done about that, because they get married young, but then they grow up and they realize that they do not suit each other.

Андрей Панкратов | 2017-08-07

Before, only men took risks, but if even imams are going to have to take responsibility... How many women won't be able to create a family now? Will they just remain unhappy, or forced to marry whatever man comes their way? "Observers hope to see the law enacted soon, as they consider polygamy a violation of women's rights"; they are not observers, but enemies of the people. Women voluntarily choose this kind of marriage because it is not different from monogamy, with both women and men having the same rights and responsibilities. Is it better in Russia: first a mistress, then a child, and the man just runs away? And with no responsibilities whatsoever. Or are they trying to limit the birth rate? Not every woman is going to decide to have a child outside of marriage. And even if she does, then she will not have more than one.

улугбек | 2017-07-25

What should a divorced woman do with her body's physiological urges, or a man with a wife who does not fully satisfy his desires that will leave the family, divorce -- [the last part marked with dashes looks incomplete and illiterate in Russian] This leads to a surge in prostitution

Валерий | 2017-07-11

I think that the woman should get to exercise this right. Specifically, the first wife. And the second marriage should be official. There are men unsatisfied by their wives, both morally and physically. And what does the man begin to do in this case? He starts looking for a woman on the side. And once he finds her, he leaves his wife. The abandoned wife can't come to terms with that and begins to act desperately. The father now has a new family and starts to forget about the old one, because the first wife he abandoned puts a lot of effort into achieving that. She doesn't let him see the kids, etc. But if the man was allowed to find a woman who could make up for what the first wife didn't have, everything would end up fine. The marriage would survive. The family would remain intact. And every one would be happy. Acts of perversion would be rare in the country. Instead of banning polygamy, it would be better to ban marriage that parents force upon their kids. And wife beating.

Макс | 2017-09-24

Valery, I completely agree with you.