Women in Turkmenistan are no longer permitted to wear “tight-fitting” clothing, and the country authorities introduced a ban on a range of beauty services that include dying/bleaching their hair, or using false nails or eyelashes.
Further restrictions have been imposed on women undergoing cosmetic surgery, such as breast augmentation, lip fillers, and even eyebrow microblading, which is widely known among Turkmen young women.
Restrictions On Women’s Freedom
To mitigate “foreign” trends harming “Türkmençilik,” (i.e., Turkmen traditional values), the Turkmen authority banned beauty services (including such eyelash and nail extensions, eyebrow and lip tattoo designs, beauty injections, and hair dying/bleaching) and “sexy” fashion accessories in April 2022.
Many condemn the ban claiming that the restriction is intended to limit Turkmen women, effectively robbing them of their basic freedom. It violates their right to bodily independence and the autonomy to dress and groom themselves as they see fit. Such prohibitive rules governing women’s appearance date back to the time when Turkmenistan gained independence from the Soviet Union and set up its nation state.
According to reports, several women have also apparently lost their jobs and work opportunities in recent weeks as a result of alleged breast implants or lip injections.
According to reports, the women were ordered to take away their beauty items and pay penalties of around 140 dollars, which is roughly half of the ordinary Turkmen monthly income.
Picking up women who are not family members is also strictly prohibited under the new ban and might lead to hefty penalties for private vehicles owning male drivers. Women are also not permitted to sit in the front chair beside the driver. The unofficial restrictions took effect this month in the strictly regulated Central Asian country, briefly after the new President Serdar Berdymukhammedov entered power in a March 12 election wherein he replaced his father.
According to reports, there has been no formal announcement or clarification for the recent ban that is being imposed by local governments and law enforcement authorities throughout the region.
Authorities and management staff, according to office workers, have held special meetings to discuss the latest regulations on women’s clothing, beauty routines, and appearances, but have refused to explain why or present a copy of the report ordering the restrictions.
According to reports, similar bans were placed in the past, but they were never strongly enforced. The new restriction goes a step further, forbidding jeans and any clothing that is too tight. “Police take their pictures, make a report, and fine the women,” RadioFreeEurope reports.
The relationship between gender and national identity
The explaination of national integration, authenticity, and identity in Central Asia is inscribed in the concept of “coming back to tradition” in order for freshly autonomous states to distance oneself from the Soviet initiative of “women ‘s independence.” Turkmenistan sought to “re-traditionalize” nation during the post-Soviet shift, and women played a significant role in the establishment of a post-Soviet Turkmen identity.
The rejuvenation of Türkmençilik and the reclaiming of the Turkmen state were manifested in calls for “liberated” Soviet women to come back to their Turkmen origins. In other words, Turkmenistan’s country-building manifested itself through the development of a “mother,” an impactful symbol of the nationwide hearth and home. Reports state that Turkmen women are still actively encouraged to give birth to and raise healthy nationalists, as well as to uphold conventional family values.
According to experts, in Turkmenistan, concerns about women’s fashion, appearance, and demeanour are essentially about purity and, strangely, male honour. As a result, women’s shame becomes the shame of the community, the shame of the country, and the shame of the family men. In this context, perceived disorderly female sexuality adversely impacts to delegitimize the country and harm men’s honour. As a result, women’s purity must be impeccable, and men frequently have a special interest in controlling their women’s sexuality and sexual behaviour.
The Diplomat states that there is no better and clear indication of dress and demeanour politics in Turkmenistan than the politics of restricting women ‘s clothing and appearance, whether or not such principles are shared by the women on whom they are imposed.
From this perspective, recent beauty restrictions can be viewed as an effort to optimize the efficiency of traditional femininity, wherein women are signifiers of purity, elegance, and modesty.
Turkmenistan’s Women’s Rights
Article 29 of Turkmenistan’s charter, as well as Legislation No.264-V give men and women equal civil privileges and advantages. Turkmenistan attended the 4th World Conference on Women, “Action for Equality, Development, and Peace,” in Beijing in 1995. All 189 collaborating authorities, including Turkmenistan, agreed to support the Beijing Agreement and System of Action. Later that year, in 1997, Turkmenistan signed the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), and then in 2009, it ratified its Optional Protocol.
The Turkmen council implemented the 2021-2025 National Plan Of action for Gender Equality in December 2020, which formed national objectives, targets, and preferences to assist and encourage gender equality across all aspects of life, both locally and internationally.
Turkmenistan was voted to the Executive Board of the United Nations Institution for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN-Women) for the period 2020-2024 on April 20, 2021. Despite marginal pledges to safeguard women from discriminatory practises, Turkmenistan’s women’s rights movement is still to be completely implemented.
The Diplomat report says, women and girls are subjected to domestic abuse, gender-based violence, sexual assault, sex trafficking, virginity tests, forced marriages, and are barred from buying cigarettes or acquiring driver’s licences because they lack bodily independence and self-determination. All of this is taking place against a backdrop of Article 16 of Law No.264-V, which assures women equal rights to contribute in the management of the administration’s relations, and yet the country has taken it a state primary focus to police what women wear.
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