IWPR (17)

Afghanistan: Women Seek Refuge in Safe Houses

The whole concept of such shelters remains controversial in this deeply conservative country. The beatings began soon after Zahra, now 22, was married off to a 75-year old man in exchange for a large bride price.  My father was blinded by money and he gave me in marriage to this man,' she told ...

Afghanistan: The Female Engineers Rebuilding History

Groundbreaking project showcases women's achievements in a male-dominated industry. The ruins of Kabul's once grand Darulaman Palace, devastated by decades of war, have long been an iconic sight in the capital. An ambitious Afghan-led 16 million US dollar reconstruction project agreed in May 2016 ...

Karabakh's April War, One Year Later

Diplomatic efforts have stalled with little progress in sight.   A year after the worst clashes between Azerbaijani forces and the Armenian-backed Karabakh army since the 1994 ceasefire, regional experts warn that any future outbreak of violence is likely to be even deadlier. More than a dozen ...

Afghanistan: Fighting for Disability Rights

Disabled people say they face social prejudice and government inaction. Fazluddin, a tall, thin 25-year-old who lives in Dolana, central Parwan, has a whole household to support on nothing more than disability stipends. He himself lost his right eye and suffered multiple injuries aged just two when ...

Child Labour in Afghan Coal Mines

Underage workers routinely endure hot, dusty and dangerous conditions. Shir Ahmad, 12, spends all day working in the pitch darkness of a coalmine in the Dara-e Suf district of northern Samangan province. His face black with dust, he said he spent his time loading a donkey with coal to then transport ...

Tajikistan's Abandoned Wives

Many men find new partners while working abroad, leaving families at home without support. Adolat's story is a familiar one amongst many Tajik women. She has been on her own ever since her labour migrant husband took a new wife while in Russia. The 40-year-old mother-of-three from the Bokhtar ...

Afghanistan's Silent Killer

Breast cancer is the second most common cause of death for Afghan women, but there is little public awareness of the disease. In a dark, narrow hallway at the Herat breast cancer treatment centre, women with anxious faces wait for their diagnose. Nafas Gul , a woman in her forties, said that she had ...

Afghanistan: Female Detainees Face Sexual Abuse

Prisoners say they are harassed by police officers and justice officials alike. Zahra is in Kabul Badam-Bagh women's prison, six years into a 15-year prison sentence  - the maximum punishment for adultery under Afghan law. The mother-of four said that she had run away with another man after her ...

Russia's Aims in Central Asia

Regional cooperation revolves around the Eurasia Economic Union. Russia continues to lack a common policy on Central Asia, preferring instead to pursue bilateral relations with individual states, according to regional expert Chinara Esengul. The Kyrgyz analyst on Central Asia geopolitics and ...

Afghan Women Denied Identity Cards

Without officials papers it's impossible to vote, travel or get medical care. A full 70 per cent of women in the eastern province of Nangarhar do not hold Afghan identity cards and thus are denied access to a wide range of services, IWPR has discovered. The documents, known as tazkira, are vital to ...

Afghanistan: Spare the Rod, Spoil the Child

Children face routine beatings both at home and at school. Seven-year-old Ibrar stood scared and hesitating by the wall of the mosque, unwilling to enter. The preacher in the mosque is so unfair and he beats children badly,' the boy explained. He hit me on my back and my father had to take me to the ...

Afghan Gypsies Wait for Recognition

Official promises to ensure community has access to basic services have yet to be realized. Mah Gul, 70, works from morning to night on the streets each day as a palmist and fortuneteller. Clad in a worn, torn dress with a string of colourful beads around her neck, she grabs the attention of ...

President's Lawsuits Intimidate Kyrgyz Media

Independent outlets fear pressure may fuel self-censorship. Activists are warning of threats to the country's media freedom after President Almazbek Atambaev filed a series of lawsuits against outlets for allegedly defaming him.   Media professionals fear that the huge sums of money involved might ...

Afghanistan: Betrothed in the Womb

The consequences of early marriage often ruin girls' lives. Bibi Asma was in her cradle when her father promised her in marriage to a boy just a few years older than her. When she was 15, her fiancé came back from Iran where he had been working to visit her at her home in Lafra, a part of Firoz Koh ...

Could New Poppy Strain be Boosting Afghanistan's Opium Crop?

Local producers say they can now plant and harvest their fields all year round. Karam Khan, an opium poppy farmer from Helmand, is delighted that business is booming. New strains of seeds mean that poppy could be sewn and harvested all year round, he said, and shrinking government control over the ...

Could Uzbekistan be Opening Up?

Scope for change on foreign policy, but domestic reform may be mostly cosmetic. In the three months since his appointment, Uzbekistan's new president Shavkat Mirziyoyev has taken a number of measures that appear to show willingness to open up one of the world's most isolated states. His predecessor ...

Afghanistan: Action Urged Over Street Abuse

Women say they face unremitting harassment in the public sphere. Najla, a 20-year old undergraduate at a private university in Kabul province, is contemplating giving up her degree. She says that continuous sexual harassment on campus has made it nearly impossible to continue with her political ...