Scars of Traditions: Convention vs. Modernity
Ancient traditions represent cultural values and image of different ethnic and religious communities. From the childhood, members of those communities are taught to respect and preserve traditional values, obey and follow certain rules. Hence, it creates social and cultural expectations which automatically assign certain roles to individuals based on their gender and origin of families. As history has shown, it tends to result in numerous social issues like discrimination, limited access to education, health issues, violation of human rights and the list can go on.
Traditionalist conservatism has long been prevailing in Central Asia which resulted in higher level of gender discrimination and inequality. This issue is mostly common in rural areas of the region as the older generation wants the local youth to preserve the old traditions that often might not be humane. Taking the case of Kyrgyzstan, there is a tradition called “kyz ala kachu” which means marrying a woman by abducting her with or without her consent. Despite having ancient roots, this tradition is still practiced in many parts of the country. Contrary to the state officials statistics that only 5% of female population are the victims, the reports of Human Rights Watch of UNDP states that every third woman in Kyrgyzstan is married due to “kyz ala kachu” tradition. This kind of forced marriages boosted the level women suicides in past 10 years. The government has not handled the problem, and the punishments for the parties involved in the crimes of abduction, forced marriage or rape are not severe. Reason behind such indifference is that social stigmatization often forces the females to obey the traditions which restrict their personal and economical freedom. The families of the victims are also pressured by the local community to put up with the idea of forced marriage in fear of getting cursed in superstitious society.
Although it seems that we have surpassed the era of conservatism and entered the era of digitization, we still lack the data information on the real number of people suffering from negative consequences of old traditions. Therefore, in this seminar session with the focus on Central Asia, the delegates will get to know about the socioeconomic problems of the region, make a comparative analysis, and collaborate to come up with solutions that would minimize the risks.