Happy International Woman’s Day, everyone! With the jump in international cases of the coronavirus, it was very difficult to find something different to write about this week. Thanks to fate, I managed to find an article connected to coronavirus that was both timely and ties into the importance of women in the world.
I’m fired up by this story about Kyrgyzstan particularly because it is International Woman’s Day. The one quote that strikes me most fitting before I continue is by Pakistani activist and Nobel Prize laureate, Malala Yousafzai,
“We realize the importance of our voice when we are silenced.”
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Disclaimer: I do not own any of the articles used in this post and have provided links to them below. A bit of additional research has gone into this post, but a majority of this is my own personal interpretation, opinions, and rants.
Eurasianet: How was the coronavirus involved?
Article Title: Kyrgyzstan: Women’s rights march cancelled over coronavirus
Here’s the gist: On March 5, a court in Kyrgyzstan’s capital, Bishkek, forbid the International Woman’s Day rally take place and used the possible spread of the novel coronavirus COVID-19 as the reasoning. No cases of the virus have been reported in Kyrgyzstan yet.
The Bishkek Feminist Initiatives (BFI) questioned the court’s decision seeing as the same concerns were not being applied to open-air markets or the annual celebrations in May that mark the end of World War II. They feel that the virus is being used as a smokescreen to stop the event which has agitated authorities in the past.
The rally, focused around protests against domestic violence and women’s economic freedom, has been met with hostility in recent years, which has seemed to be a newer phenomenon according to rally organizers.
Leaders of the women’s rally were uncertain if the protest would still take place due to the court’s decision.
For the complete article, go to the following link on Eurasianet.
Associated Press: What happened at Kyrgyzstan’s women’s rally this morning?
Article Title: Scores detained at women’s rally in Kyrgyzstan
Here’s the gist: Police in Bishkek held roughly 60 people after an unauthorized International Women’s Day rally took place and was broken up by a group of men.
The rally concentrated on showing solidarity for women’s and children’s rights.
The police stated that people from both sides were detained, but journalistic reports have shown that a majority of the detainees were women.
Aljazeera: More details about what happened at today’s rally.
Article Title: Kyrgyzstan: Women’s rights protesters assaulted, by men
Here’s the gist: A group of masked men attacked the protesters involved in the International Women’s rally by destroying their posters, throwing eggs, and popping balloons used in the rally with toy pistols.
Women involved in the rally against gender-based violence in Bishkek were placed in police vehicles. The police stated that they were not notified and, therefore, not prepared for the rally. The officers said the women were detained for their safety. Three of the masked men were captured and detained as well, but the police did not chase after the men who ran.
The attacks were sparked by tensions that developed during last year’s rally between activists and conservative groups. The conservative groups complained that the rallies were promoting gay rights while the activists argue that women’s rights are deteriorating due to the comeback of right-wing ideologies and nationalism.
For the full article by Aljazeera, go here.
Human Rights Watch: What are these women rights activists in
Article Title: Grim news from Kyrgyzstan on domestic violence
Here’s the gist: At least three women were killed by their husbands and partners in the first 14 days of 2020.
According to the Interior Ministry of Kyrgyzstan, only 649 cases of 6,145 reported domestic violence cases resulted in criminal cases in 2019. Four were for murder.
A Family Violence Law was created in 2017 and led to a notable spike in protection orders, but they are rarely enforced and violations are rarely punished. Police issued nearly 5,400 protection orders in 2019, but government data shows only 18 registered misdemeanors for failure to comply.
The most notable domestic violence case in Kyrgyzstan in the last three years would have to be the highly publicized killing of Burulai. Her murder in 2018 was committed by the same man that abducted her for forced marriage. Her death prompted public protests but led to little change.
Since January, two additional crisis centers have been added to the country– one in Bishkek and one in Osh. Even with these additions, Kyrgyzstan’s only has 14 crisis centers in the entire country and they receive little to no government support. There are only about 22 spaces for women and children in nongovernmental organizations in Bishkek. The Council of Europe standards call for one space per 10,000 people–there are one million in Bishkek.
Go here for the full article by the Human Rights Watch.
Why We Should Care
International Women’s Day is a day that should highlight the strength and fire that is found within every woman that has been broken or told no. It should be a day that focuses on the power of communities supporting and protecting each other. The activists in Kyrgyzstan did just that.
These women are perfect examples of the fight needed around the world to protect men and women alike from domestic violence. Their drive showed nothing can stop women that have something worth fighting for.
When the government used coronavirus fear mongering as a way to stop the protests, they still showed up. Even when masked men turned up to taunt and disrupt their rally, these women showed up. And, I can guarantee these women will show up again and again until the officials in Kyrgyzstan make impactful changes for victims of domestic violence. And, until that day, these women will continue to fight.
I am so glad I found out about this rally so I could bring attention to it on International Women’s Day. If you are interested in finding a way that you can help those faced with domestic violence both abroad and here in the United States, consider going to the Domestic Violence National/Global Resources page found at domesticshelters.org. There are over 35 organizations listed that help combat domestic violence both here and around the world.
If you would like to see more about the powerful moments that have occurred across the globe today, check out this piece by Insider.
With that, I leave you with with Maya Angelou’s iconic poem, “Phenomenal Woman”. Have a wonderful International Women’s Day:
Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s sizeBut when I start to tell them,They think I’m telling lies.I say,It’s in the reach of my arms,The span of my hips,The stride of my step,The curl of my lips.I’m a womanPhenomenally.Phenomenal woman,That’s me.I walk into a roomJust as cool as you please,And to a man,The fellows stand orFall down on their knees.Then they swarm around me,A hive of honey bees.I say,It’s the fire in my eyes,And the flash of my teeth,The swing in my waist,And the joy in my feet.I’m a womanPhenomenally.Phenomenal woman,That’s me.Men themselves have wonderedWhat they see in me.They try so muchBut they can’t touchMy inner mystery.When I try to show them,They say they still can’t see.I say,It’s in the arch of my back,The sun of my smile,The ride of my breasts,The grace of my style.I’m a womanPhenomenally.Phenomenal woman,That’s me.Now you understandJust why my head’s not bowed.I don’t shout or jump aboutOr have to talk real loud.When you see me passing,It ought to make you proud.I say,It’s in the click of my heels,The bend of my hair,the palm of my hand,The need for my care.’Cause I’m a womanPhenomenally.Phenomenal woman,That’s me.