The debate rages on the role of Muslim women

The two young women were found and returned to their families. They fled to escape the condition of submission imposed by their relatives. Tatar women are more free than Caucasian women, married at 16-17 years old and deprived of access to education.

Moscow (AsiaNews) – The story of two 20-year-old girls who secretly fled the Russian republic of Dagestan to Kazan, capital of Tatarstan, to escape pressure from relatives has sparked outcry across the country.

After discovering their hiding place, the authorities handed them over to one of the two families. The two young women, as stated by some human rights activists on Idel.Realiidenounced “were not allowed to study and work, but had to stay at home under the control of a husband or parents”.

The epsidoe is dated October 18 and sparked a debate in the following days across Russia about the status of women in Muslim-majority federal territories and the possibility of “Islamic feminism”.

In Tatarstan and in the neighboring Uralic republic of Bashkortostan (two regions with a population of Tatar-Mongol origin), women are used to leading a very active life, participating freely in all dimensions of social life. Against the backdrop of these realities, however, the situation in Dagestan, a North Caucasian republic overlooking the Caspian Sea, where women have traditionally been very submissive, is striking.

Between the Uralian and Caucasian zones there is not an excessive distance, less than a thousand kilometres, which for Russia is almost close, yet they seem to be two different worlds in the conception of women and family relations. Several Russian intellectuals, Islamologists and writers have tried to answer this question.

Entrepreneur and blogger Naila Akhmadeeva from Kazan believes that the entrepreneurial spirit of Tatar women comes from their history and upbringing. During the era of Tatar rule over the Russians, which ended in the middle of the 16th century with the very conquest of Kazan by Ivan the Terrible, Tatar women outnumbered men and got used to the most demanding jobs. heavy. The men had largely died in the fighting and their children were raised by their mothers, creating male dependence on women.

“In our country, men are not used to making decisions,” says Naila. “I myself learned everything from my mother, and raised my family by instilling in women the meaning of ‘running in front of the locomotive’, according to a Tatar saying. husband to take matters into his own hands.”

In Chechnya, Dagestan, Azerbaijan and other parts of the Caucasus, women are used to remaining under the protection of men, as Akhmadeeva explains, insisting that “men have to be explained that their wives should not be passive and illiterate”. When women in these regions behave too freely, husbands and parents are reprimanded in this way: “You see, your wife is walking around Kazan.

Writer Gulnara Ghinjatullina, originally from Dagestan but living in Irkutsk, Siberia, recently published the book “My Salafist Sister”, which recounts the many letters she received about the oppression of women in Dagestan. While visiting Kazan, Gulnara sees “how strong Muslim women are here, free and empowered, they encourage me.” According to the author, it can be said that in Tatarstan the institution of women “abyssal” (in Tatar, the wives of the mullahs, educated women) is placed at the same level as the imams, when the woman can be the head of the community.

Girls in Dagestan are normally given in marriage around the age of 16-17, without having received any education and having never known an independent life. Ghinjatullina, however, urges us not to generalize too much: “Even in Dagestan [the situation] depends on the country and the family background, which is not always so oppressive. After all, in the republic of Dagestan, different ethnic groups live together, such as avartsy, darghintsy, tabarasantsy and others.

Dagestani Islamologist and ethnologist Akhmet Jarlykanov, member of the Academy of Historical Sciences, believes that the difference in the conception of women in Islam depends on several factors, from the different “maskhab” (theological-legal schools) to the development history and various ethnic traditions. . “Now the important thing is that the two girls brought back from Kazan stay alive,” comments Jarlykanov. “Perhaps this story will be an important lesson for everyone. The state should not interfere, as long as no crime is committed, but all of society must react.”

Rose D. Jones