MT: Kadyrov Defends Honor Killings
- The Moscow Times » Issue 4095 »
Musa Sadulayev / AP
Young Chechen women training in a gym in Grozny. Kadyrov describes
women as the property of their husbands.��
Kadyrov Defends Honor Killings
02 March 2009By Lynn Berry / Staff Writer
GROZNY -- The bull-necked president of Chechnya emerged from afternoon
prayers at the mosque and with chilling composure explained why seven
young women who had been shot in the head deserved to die.
Ramzan Kadyrov said the women, whose bodies were found dumped by the
roadside, had "loose morals" and were rightfully shot by male
relatives in honor killings.
"If a woman runs around and if a man runs around with her, both of
them are killed," Kadyrov told journalists in Grozny.
The 32-year-old former militia leader is carrying out a campaign to
impose Islamic values and strengthen the traditional customs of
predominantly Muslim Chechnya in an effort to blunt the appeal of
hardline Islamic separatists and shore up his power. In doing so,
critics say, he is setting up a dictatorship where Russian laws do not
Kadyrov's bluster shows how confident he is of his position. "No one
can tell us not to be Muslims," he said outside the mosque. "If anyone
says I cannot be a Muslim, he is my enemy."
Few dare to challenge Kadyrov's rule in Chechnya.
Kadyrov describes women as the property of their husbands and says
their main role is to bear children. He encourages men to take more
than one wife, even though polygamy is illegal in Russia. Women and
girls are now required to wear headscarves in all schools,
universities and government offices.
Some Chechen women say they support or at least accept Kadyrov's
strict new guidelines.
"Headscarves make a woman beautiful," said Zulikhan Nakayeva, a
medical student whose long dark hair flowed out from under her head
covering, her big brown eyes accentuated by mascara.
But many chafe under the restrictions.
"How do women live in Chechnya? They live as the men say," said
Taisiya, 20, who asked that her last name not be used for fear of
retribution. She was not wearing a headscarf while shopping in central
Grozny, which she said was her way of protesting.
Most women now wear headscarves in public, though the scarves rarely
fully cover their hair and in some cases are little more than colorful
silk headbands. Women who go out without a headscarf tend to tuck one
into their bag for use where headscarves are required.
Many people suspect that Kadyrov is branding the seven late November
slayings "honor killings" to advance his political agenda. He said the
women were planning to go abroad to work as prostitutes, but their
relatives found out about it and killed them.
Few Chechens believe that.
"If women are killed according to tradition then it is done very
secretly to prevent too many people from finding out that someone in
the family behaved incorrectly," said Natalya Estemirova, a prominent
human rights activist in Grozny.
Estemirova said two of the women were married, with two children each.
Their husbands held large funerals and buried them in the family plot,
which would not have happened if the women had disgraced their
families, she said.
Kadyrov's version also has been contradicted by federal prosecutors in
Moscow, who have concluded that relatives were not involved. No
arrests have been made and the investigation is continuing. Kadyrov's
office refused to comment on the investigators' conclusion.
Novaya Gazeta reported that some of the women worked in brothels
frequented by Kadyrov's men. Many Chechens say they suspect the women
were killed in a police operation. The truth of the killings may never
be known, given how much Kadyrov is feared.
Rights activists fear that Kadyrov's approval of honor killings may
encourage men to carry them out. Honor killings are considered part of
Chechen tradition. No records are kept, but human rights activists
estimate that dozens of women are killed every year.
"What the president says is law," said Gistam Sakayeva, a Chechen
activist who works to defend women's rights. "Because the president
said this, many will try to gain his favor by killing someone, even if
there is no reason."
Sakayeva also said she worried that Chechen authorities would now be
less willing to prosecute men suspected of killing wom