In Bulgaria, on January 12, 2019, at 19:00 (26, 6-ti Septemvri str., Sofia, Bulgaria), there will be a presentation of the documentary dance film #WAITINGFORCOLOR on the ongoing pursuit of LGBTQ + in Chechnya, in Armenia and in Bulgaria, in partnership with the Single Step Bulgaria and Gallery 2.0 Foundation. If you are in Sofia, join Kosta Karakashyan and Radoslav Stoyanov from the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee, we will discuss the rights of LGBTQ + in Bulgaria, Chechnya and Western Europe, as well as the opportunity to donate to refugees from LGBTQ + seeking asylum in the Netherlands with LGBT World Beside.
The views, opinions, conclusions and other information expressed in this document are not given nor necessarily endorsed by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) unless the OSCE is explicitly defined as the Author of this document.
The project “Queer Women of the North Caucasus” with the support of the Fund. Heinrich Böll systematized the results of two years of work with lesbian, bisexual and transgender women in the North Caucasus. Radio Liberty has read the report, which should be published on the website of the Foundation. Heinrich Böll December 17th.
There has always been little information about LBT women in the Caucasus, only close attention the press and NGOs to persecute homosexuals in Chechnya prompted some of them to turn to human rights defenders. The project “Queer Women of the North Caucasus” is a few activists in different regions who hide their names for security reasons. They interviewed 21 women: sixteen from Chechnya, two from Dagestan, two from Ingushetia and one from North Ossetia. Respondents from 20 to 49 years; 17 of them identified themselves as lesbians, three said they were bisexual, one was a transgender woman. Eleven women left the region or even the country, three stayed at home and hide their orientation, the relatives of five learned about their orientation, so the girls are still in a situation of violence. With one such girl, the connection was lost after the interview, like other studies on queer women, the report demonstrates a disastrous situation with the rights of women in general, including family violence. According to the respondents, violence in Caucasian families is widespread, but statistics in this area are fragmentary, and the victims almost never turn to law enforcement agencies, who are sympathetic to the violation of their rights. “In the Chechen Republic, 11% of the respondents (women) indicated that they were sometimes beaten, 28% from time to time received slaps or pushes,” the 2015 study “Life and situation of women in the North Caucasus” says. At the same time, a 2011 study conducted by Rosstat together with the Ministry of Health in partnership with the United Nations Population Fund showed that in Russia as a whole, 20% of women were subjected to physical violence. 8% of women in the Caucasus said that they were raped or forced to have sex, on average in Russia, 4% said they had sex against their will with a current or former partner. 27% of the Chechens interviewed admitted that they had married under the force of their parents, in the oldest age group (61+) there were more than 40% of them.
Absolutely all LBT women who took part in the study said that they had gone through beatings and humiliation that begin after childhood. “Relatives on the father’s side often said that the girl should be strangled at birth”; “The father beat his children badly. One of the half-sisters said that the father threw them against the wall”; “The father often beat the mother. The father knocked out all the front teeth of the mother,” said residents of Chechnya.
One woman told about the actions of a sexual nature on the part of her uncle, who threatened her that in case of publicity, the punishment was waiting for her. And so it happened: when relatives learned about violence against a girl, she was accused of sexual promiscuity.
For many, violence ends in death, but the killers of sisters and daughters rarely sit in the dock. Another report of the Foundation for Legal Initiative about honor killings in Dagestan, Chechnya and Ingushetia states that out of 33 cases of such killings, only 14 reached the court. Eight out of 21 respondents from the Queer Women project said that one of their acquaintances had been killed by male relatives for behavior that “dishonors the family.”
The wedding of the head of the Chechnya ROVD in the Nozhai-Yurt district of Najud Guchigov and the 17-year-old resident of the village of Baitarka Louise Goilabieva.
All respondents spoke about total control by their relatives: regardless of age, they were forbidden to leave the house in the evening, it was often forbidden to communicate with boys and young people. “You cannot ride a taxi. You can take a bus, only where are adult women, if there are only men on the bus, you cannot go. I once secretly bought a car, studied in another region, bought it there. When my brother found out, she lied that the car was not mine Such disassemblies were. We managed to sell them quickly, “said a resident of Chechnya. Some girls were even forbidden to directly contact their father, social networks and mobile phones were checked daily, they were limited in their choice of clothing and social circle. “Mother said: – You are my property, I will do with you what I want, and you will do everything that I said.” Here it is. “Marry – you will do that what will my husband say to you You can have neither your opinion, nor your opinion; in general, nobody and nothing, you are our thing. All “;” They checked several times at the gynecologist if I was a virgin or not, “say respondents from Chechnya.
Nine of the girls interviewed were or are married, eight of them were married forcibly, and in seven cases they were forced into marriage after they learned about their homosexuality or began to suspect them of it. All the girls were abused, including sexual violence, by their husbands.
The North Caucasian “marriage” is usually located outside the Russian legal field, in the registry office go only in the case of the birth of a child. Women often do not ask consent, the mullah can issue a “marriage certificate”, which is kept by her husband. The document indicates the data of the husband and wife, the witnesses on the part of the groom and the data “wali” – the bride’s guardian (usually father or brother), as well as the amount of kalym, which usually varies from 10 thousand to 50 thousand rubles. According to the respondents, instead of the bride, the signature for her could be “wali”; in general, the evidence is similar to the contract of sale, one of the women, who had been married twice, said that she had never signed anywhere, did not give out marriage certificates to her . In this case, the three respondents at the time of the interview were not the only wives married.
“Marriage Certificate” from Mullah, Chechnya.
As a woman moves de facto from one “guardian” to another, the system of total control, physical and psychological violence remains the same, only sexual violence is added to it. “I was immediately taken to the village. For six months I lived in this village. I didn’t have my things, the conditions were difficult. My duties were to clean the house, cook food for the whole big family, clean the shoes of all family members every evening, clean every day in the yard. In fact, I was a servant, “- says a resident of Dagestan. “Once I went to the store and didn’t notice that my hair was strayed out from under the hijab. He shouted at me and started beating right on the street. So hard that I couldn’t stand for several days. And he was a boxing trainer. to argue, then immediately knock out, “- recalls the girl from Chechnya. ” My husband was terrible. He beat me almost every day. First, he beat me on the face with his hands, and then with a stick. He came up with the rules of behavior, and if I’m guilty, he beat me with a stick three times, “says another Chechen woman.
The Caucasus differs from other Russian regions in that it is almost impossible for a woman to get out of a situation of violence. If she succeeds in obtaining a divorce, she returns to her parental home, where she is exposed to even greater violence from her relatives, finding herself guilty of her position of “divorcing”. “After 4 years, she could not stand it and called my mother. She asked me to pick me up from my husband. Mother said that she sees no reason for divorce, since she” also did not love her husband. “So everyone lives,” says a woman from Dagestan. “It’s boring to sit at home and I played online games. Brother saw me talking to other players on the Internet. Immediately he started beating me, pressed me to the wall and began to choke me. I began to lose consciousness. Mother entered the room, pushed my brother away “- says the girl from Chechnya.
Sixteen out of 21 respondents were faced with the fact that their sexual orientation became known to their relatives. Usually this happens during the perusal of correspondence, because of gossip and rumors or banal revenge from friends who disseminate incriminating information. “My girlfriend sent my intimate photos to one of the groups on the social network. So the family learned”; “The bell rang. Brother spoke on the phone. It turned out that the correspondence with my friend found her mother. Well, she called mine”; “My brother became suspicious of this relationship and began to monitor me, check my phone several times a day. I tried to delete my messages as soon as I received them. But one day my brother was in the room when a message came from her, he I heard a sound and asked for a phone. I did not give it to him, because I knew that the message was from a girl, and was afraid. He began to hit me on the head and face. Of course, he picked the phone. Later, until the very marriage, I was under arrest and without a telephone, “say residents of Chechnya.
If relatives find out about a girl’s homo-, bi-, or transsexuality, this always leads to a wave of physical and psychological violence, which can also result in murder. However, the authors of the report do not have statistics on murders for orientation; the task was to study the living respondents, but at least two sudden deaths became known from different sources: in one case the official version was kidney disease, in the second – mysterious poisoning. “When they learned that I was a lesbian, they closed me in the room where the repair was going, with one blanket. They let me into the kitchen and the toilet when nobody was in the kitchen … I probably lived there for several months without everything, until my father bought there is a sofa “; “The brother sat down next to me on his knees, gave me a gun … He cried, I swear, he cried, and said:” I gave my word to Father not to kill you. I beg you, shoot yourself, just shoot yourself! “And I … I already walked like a zombie, I stretch that gun to him and say:” If you want, then kill yourself. I will not shoot myself. “And he is like this:” If you shoot yourself, it will all end, we will tell people that this somehow happened by chance “;” All men from the family are going. All the older men in the family (grandfathers, uncles, fathers, older brothers) and discuss what punishment to choose for a woman for her wrong behavior. If they find out that she is a lesbian, then most likely she will have two options: kill or marry forcibly, “say girls from Chechnya. Three respondents said that brothers or mothers inclined them to suicide (seven girls made suicide attempts) . then kill yourself. I will not shoot myself. “And he is like this:” If you shoot yourself, it will all end, we will tell people that this somehow happened by chance “;” All men from the family are going. All the older men in the family (grandfathers, uncles, fathers, older brothers) and discuss what punishment to choose for a woman for her wrong behavior. If they find out that she is a lesbian, then most likely she will have two options: kill or marry forcibly, “say girls from Chechnya. Three respondents said that brothers or mothers inclined them to suicide (seven girls made suicide attempts) . then kill yourself. I will not shoot myself. “And he is like this:” If you shoot yourself, it will all end, we will tell people that this somehow happened by chance “;” All men from the family are going. All the older men in the family (grandfathers, uncles, fathers, older brothers) and discuss what punishment to choose for a woman for her wrong behavior. If they find out that she is a lesbian, then most likely she will have two options: kill or marry forcibly, “say girls from Chechnya. Three respondents said that brothers or mothers inclined them to suicide (seven girls made suicide attempts) . fathers, elder brothers) and discuss what punishment to choose for a woman for her wrong behavior. If they find out that she is a lesbian, then most likely she will have two options: kill or marry forcibly, “say girls from Chechnya. Three respondents said that brothers or mothers inclined them to suicide (seven girls made suicide attempts) . fathers, elder brothers) and discuss what punishment to choose for a woman for her wrong behavior. If they find out that she is a lesbian, then most likely she will have two options: kill or marry forcibly, “say girls from Chechnya. Three respondents said that brothers or mothers inclined them to suicide (seven girls made suicide attempts).
Relatives do not always resort to extreme measures, some try to cure sexual orientation: for this, girls are taken to one of the Centers for Islamic Medicine or they invite the mullah to go home – to “expel the jinn”. Five of the women surveyed went through this procedure (about her in an interview at Radio Liberty also told Chechen lesbians in detail, who managed to leave Russia). However, the girls themselves often believe that their orientation is a consequence of obsession with a male genie who fell in love with them and disgusted with other men, therefore they agree to exorcism rituals, moreover, if the mullah confirms the diagnosis, the girl begins a course of treatment, and if her healthy, she in the eyes of the family becomes the usual libertine. “They laid me down and covered my whole body with such a green cloth. (…) They put on my headphones, started to hold hands and legs. (…) My head started to ache because of screams. A panic attack began. When these screams ( prayers. – Approx.) the headphones ran out, and I was already conscious, the mullah said that I needed something tougher, and asked my parents if they agreed. They, of course, agreed. Then the mullah took me by the hand, sat on my horse, crushed my hands with their feet. Took some tool. It seemed to me that it was a plastic stick, this stick was screwed into my ear. He pulled the skin out of my ears. I began to scream in pain. Mullah said: “It does not hurt you, it hurts your jinn”; “Some of them said that I need a ritual of“ cleansing demonic blood. ”To do this, my parents pierced the skin of my back with needles, made small cuts on my arms and legs. a bathroom with very salty water, and I was supposed to lie there, “say girls from Chechnya.
Exorcism of the genie.
One of the ways to avoid violence is fake marriage with a homosexual from the region. Six respondents arranged such marriages, however, let them be thorny for freedom. It’s dangerous to search for a candidate, because you can run into a “set-up” in social networks, native girls are always suspicious if she chooses a partner herself, marriage is impossible, if there are doubts about the future husband’s sexual orientation or reputation, besides Chechnya before marriage HIV test is obligatory, one of the respondents told how her choice did not pass such a test and the wedding was canceled. However, only half of the girls who marry gay or “understanding” friends, considered this adventure a success. In three cases, the husbands quickly forgot about the fictitious nature of marriage, and the girls again found themselves in situations of domestic and sexual violence. “I got pregnant. He screamed that does not want this child. To have an abortion in a marriage is impossible with us. So that there was no talk, they took me to some such room … they had an abortion. I was so bad. I don’t even know if these people have a medical education, “says a resident of Dagestan about her life with her gay husband.
One of the most serious offenses, but at the same time, sometimes the only way to salvation is to escape. Not many decide on it: women are economically dependent on the family, cannot get a passport without permission of the “guardian”, law enforcement agencies all over the country immediately pass to their searches, and they pass the refugees to their relatives, despite their requests not to do so. Upon the return of women, isolation, violence and, possibly, the death penalty are guaranteed (Radio Liberty knows a case when law enforcement agencies in a situation like this forced a man to kill his daughter, the father refused to commit a crime, the family had to leave the region).
With a successful escape, you need to be ready to refuse any contact with family members, because they continue to hunt women even abroad, one of the respondents was detained in Europe and, after several months of imprisonment, they were sent home. At the same time, as the study shows, only one respondent had previously developed an escape plan, the other 15 girls made a spontaneous decision when they considered that their lives were in danger. “I didn’t care. As if I wanted to be found and killed already. I packed up my bag and went hitchhiking. I got to Rostov (the city was changed). I slept in the forest. I climbed up a tree. I spent one night there,” a Chechen resident said.
According to the girls, law enforcement agencies at least in Chechnya expanded the audience of repression, adding lesbians and bisexual women to homosexuals and transgender people. No verified information on Radio Liberty’s “lesbian lists” was found, but three respondents from Chechnya were the victims of harassment by security forces. “The security officials took me away because she sheltered her friend. I could not refuse her. But I didn’t know that she was trying to escape. I began to ask and understood this. She had adult Chechen brothers. I said that one night she She can spend the night, but then she needs to come back. So they will quickly find her and she has nowhere to go. She left. But someone hacked her page where she wrote about me … The siloviki broke into my house and accused me of being a lesbian, that I stole their sister. Interrogated me. After that, morally tortured. But since I lit up, then constantly taken. When they were looking for some gay man, they took me away, beat me, but no trace remained. They pricked me with needles under the nails “;” They [the security forces] connected wires to my little fingers, put a basin of water in front of me, and said that they would shock me. They beat them with their fists and hands, spat in the face. Then they called my elder brother and mother, said: “Bring some men’s things to your sister.” They filmed everything on camera. 120 thousand rubles were extorted for this video. My paid. ” They beat them with their fists and hands, spat in the face. Then they called my elder brother and mother, said: “Bring some men’s things to your sister.” They filmed everything on camera. 120 thousand rubles were extorted for this video. My paid. ” They beat them with their fists and hands, spat in the face. Then they called my elder brother and mother, said: “Bring some men’s things to your sister.” They filmed everything on camera. 120 thousand rubles were extorted for this video. My paid. ”
As in the case of honor killings, there is no hope for a solution of the issue in the foreseeable future. The authors of the report are sure: “We need structural changes, anti-discrimination legislation, large-scale work with law enforcement agencies, which is impossible at the current level of institutional homophobia at the state level.” So far, human rights defenders and journalists can only save specific people.
At the end of October 2018, the ILGA-Europe conference “Politics for Change: from Words into action” was held in Brussels, Belgium.
This is the largest annual meeting of LGBTI activists from Europe and Central Asia. This year there were about 500 participants, including politicians, activists, journalists and organizations.
There was a very rich program, but the LGBT World Beside team was able to attend almost every seminar and lecture. We received a lot of information with which to work in the near future. We met new people, made friends and exchanged contacts. Ahead of us is a lot of work, a lot of cooperation and big victories in business.
Below is an abbreviated list of lectures:
– Digital security.
– LGBT Roma.
– Women’s and LGBT rights, health, resistance to attacks.
– Substitute dating.
– Exit from the crisis.
– Communication with politicians in unsafe countries, ect.
The ILGA-Europe conference helped us create priorities in our work plan. We are grateful to everyone for their support and cooperation.
“Documentary Dance Film Raises Awareness about LGBTQ+ Torture in Chechnya”
NEW YORK – WAITING FOR COLOR is a documentary dance film revealing the harsh reality of LGBTQ+ persecution in the Chechen region of Russia. The contents of the film were inspired by testimonials of the arrests, torture, and blackmail that gay Chechens were subjected to throughout 2017. Through the accounts of 33 brave individuals who shared their stories, the film explores the themes of paranoia, trauma, and hope.
The film chooses dance as the primary medium in order to evoke three distinct emotions that showcase the intensity that Chechens faced: surveillance, brutality, and hopelessness. The physically-charged, abstract movement is choreographed to enhance the resonance of the spoken testimonies, offering a physical interpretation to the psychological torture that the individuals experienced.
The film is a direct response to the government anti-gay purge in Chechnya that made international news in April 2017 about the abduction, torture and extrajudicial killings of over 100 gay men in the Chechen Republic, a part of the Russian Federation. As news spread, activists tried to evacuate survivors and push the local government for accountability, admittance, and persecution of those involved in these terrible crimes against humanity. The Russian government has been stalling its investigation, refusing to come forward with anything conclusive even after reports and public testimonials of individuals who had successfully escaped were shared in the press.
The film was independently produced by Kosta Karakashyan and Studio Karakashyan and is being released in collaboration with Single Step Foundation, a Bulgarian non-profit organization that aims to help LGBTI youth recognize, come out and affirm their sexual orientation and gender identity. The goal of the film is to maintain international attention on the situation and to highlight the important work that the Russian LGBT Network is doing in uncovering these brutal stories and protecting the individuals that came forward to share them.
Waiting for Color (6:35) release: Wednesday, August 27, 1PM EDT.
Copyright Kosta Karakashyan.