Women's riot and the basics of the Azerbaijani mentality

- You must have read social network rhetoric harshly criticizing women-participants of the meeting. The community believes that the feminists trampled upon national traditions and principles. The pro-governmental press trades on this slogan to denounce the political opposition as a whole. What’s your take on that?

Chingiz Sultansoy -  I cannot reply your question in one word. Yes, I support this action by posting it livestream on my Facebook page which caused firestorm. By the way, it sounds much more vulgar: «The daughter is mine; I give her to anyone I want (crossed out). It’s my vagina; I give it to anybody I want». Here I’d like to add a few words.

First, what are our values? These are usual patriarchal values typical for many peoples: have respect for seniors; have welcoming arms; care for your family; help your kinsfolk; woman must obey man, etc. I don’t mind respect for seniors, hospitality, care for family, etc. The principle that senior is always right had been laid down within the framework of Heydar Aliyev cult, and it is still in effect to consolidate the current power. I’m against a traditional attitude to woman; it deprives Azerbaijani woman of any rights not only in the province but Baku as well. Thus, father does not allow his daughter to study or, instead, marries her off against her will which sometimes leads to tragedies and even deaths.

Second, a poster «The daughter is mine; I give her to anyone I want. It’s my vagina; I give it to anybody I want» which caused a lot of emotional abuse and insults. This poster became a target for criticism and curse. I’d like to note that the author of the poster is right: she has the right to dispose of her body and live her life as she wants to. However, the very expression of author’s position in public spaces through the use of four-letter words is none other than extremism for our society. It could have been much worse if she had used Azerbaijani words to express the same...).

It has to be noted that the authorities and a patriarchal part of our society have concentrated on the expression above even despite the fact that there were lots of other posters of democratic nature. «I want freedom, not flowers», «Not bozbash but revolt!», «All women killed complained of their hard life», «Don’t shut up before violence!», «Mr. Aliyev, if woman is killed you’re to blame!», «I want to study!», etc. To my thinking, young feminists willing to advance their idea, have shot themselves in the foot tothis the poster quoted above. True, if not this poster, the authorities would find another fault, especially as there was a poster about Ilham Aliyev’s guilt.

Particular emphasis needs to be placed on the fact that epatage nature of the poster could repel many people, at least, those sharing or having sympathies to ideas of feminist meeting organizers of March 8 in Baku. If not the poster cited above, moderates could join the meeting. However, meeting organizers did not think about it due to the lack of experience. On the other hand, there was psychologist Narmin Shahmarzadeh among protesters. She is notorious for her shocking statements about entirely blameless, young Armenian soldier who can be killed in action from an Azerbaijani bullet in the frontline. This is not about pacifism and/or stupidity for epatage, I don’t know whether deliberate or accidental. Beyond any doubt, she is seeking to gain popularity through making scandal statements. In other words, feminist protesters stirred up controversies against themselves.

- What’s the undertone of this campaign? For example, if you do not allow political slogans, we instead put forward sexual demands. Is it possible?

- Any movement has its purpose to educate masses, gain adherents and influence, turn into real political force. If so, this poster alienated many people who otherwise would be sympathetic to other slogans and ideas, including the woman’s right to education; her right to choose a husband; the right to secure herself against violence.

This notwithstanding, I support their demands, even the sadly-remembered poster. This is about infringement of female rights in Azerbaijan, e4specuially in provinces. Unfortunately, it is an expected result caused by the current social and political situation in the country where law enforcement bodies, police procurator’s office and executive power fail to cope with their duties; a result of corrupt thinking and stultification of masses bt means of mass media, television, etc..

The essential point to remember is that the law-enforcement bodies of the developed European countries, for instance, in Germany, are engaged in protecting interests of women in line with appropriate legislation. There is a well- developed system of sanctuary Frauenhaus – Home for Women in Germany. A woman is housed, and if a brother or a husband trues to find her, the latter be be imprisoned. What about Azerbaijan? There are 1-2 sanctuaries of this sort in Baku. However, a woman will not get help from police or procurator’s office; everything ends in severe injuries or death. For this reason, attempts to awake society and protect interests and safety of women must be welcomed even despite vulgar methods used on this track.


- Women were detained and then released in a Gobustan steppe. Police leadership ignored any dangers threatening women’s safety.

- I’m not surprised at this fact. The fact that young women were taken to Gobustan and released there is illustrative of authorities’ attitude towards any unsanctioned campaign. Has the Aliyev’s police ever cared for human safety?

- Does yesterday’s action mean that the authorities yield to any political force? I ask you such a question because this time, as distinct from past years the authorities declined from beating or arresting anybody.

- I’d not bet on it. First, there was violence but below-the-radar. For instance, journalist Izolda Agayeva, as well as Vafa Nagi, another participant, sustained bodily injuries, abrasions and bruises. Second, this move was not dangerous for the authorities, - there was a slogan to mention President, what then? For reasons mentioned above, they did not curb the action and preferred to disperse participants across neighboring streets. Last year, the female action was suppressed much severer, provocateurs jumped at participants and correspondents. That’s why, it’d be premature to make any conclusions in the context of one action only.

- Does it matter that Azerbaijan may be excluded from the Council of Europe due to the case of politician Ilgar Mamedov versus the government of Azerbaijan? The authorities are not willing to aggravate the situation …

- It’s a separate and major issue. The probability remains that the authorities would like to leave European structures and thus get rid of human rights infringement criticism in Azerbaijan, falsification of election, large-scale corruption. At least, the authorities have repeatedly spoken out on the issue out of the mouths of executive secretary of the ruling party, Siyavush Novruzov and other infamous deputies of previous Majlis. I’m not sure that country’s top officials realize threats arising from our major issue - Karabakh. In other words, the police behavior is not essential in the matter.

- Is it possible to insist that the authorities have faced a popular network movement they cannot prohibit? Would it be logical to assert that new political forces have emerged in the country, the ones that act independently, without securing approval of other opposition forces?

- It has to be kept in mind that the feminist movement in Azerbaijan is rather limited; it is not a political party; not political force. What happens next? Hopefully, the movement will improve in strength to educate and protect interests of women. It is important to know that one can acquire notoriety by means of epatage slogans; however, it is impossible to become a powerful political force. For instance, very active and talented Vafa Nagi as perspective politician has been engaged in creating jobs for female villagers. Also, she has taken part in the election, faced with new difficulties; however, ordinary voters in the province are unlikely to follow her after this campaign.

Everything is possible and permission is granted in the authoritarian society. Everything is dependent upon whims and ill-intentions of the authorities. Suffice it to remind that our authorities can take the plunge and kidnap a journalist from a neighboring country, bring him to Azerbaijan and imprison, as was the case with Afgan Muhtarly...In considering that the Azerbaijani authorities are in position to imprison authors of posts, and activist Mehman Galandarov even committed suicide under suspicious circumstances. In reality, he was merely killed through suicide imitating. In other words, it is not very easy to call him to police for Facebook posts. Regretfully, our authorities are skillful in intimidating, taming obstinates and pinning the terms of imprisonment...




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İran Prezidentinin həlak olduğu hadisə Azərbaycan- İran münasibətlərinə təsir edə bilərmi? – Nəsimi Məmmədli Çətin sualda

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