Gender bias in a Tajik court

8 months ago Web Desk 0

On October 27, a Tajik court found young fashion designer Parvin Jahongiri guilty of defamation while the daily Vecherny Dushanbe (Vecherka) was found guilty of libel for publishing her story of verbal and physical abuse.


In May 2019, Jahongiri presented her new fashion line, Virgo, at the Tajik Fashion Week 19 spring and summer collection. Her style was described as “street casual especially for women free from the prejudices set by society.”


Her work had impressed the director of Tajik Fashion Week, Tohir Ibrohimov, who invited Jahongiri to work with him to create the TandZ showroom that would feature Jahongiri’s apparel.


“I was never so close to my dream,” she recalled.


But Jahongiri said from the first day she worked with him, Ibrohimov insulted her, used foul language, threatened her, threw objects at her, and even threatened to rape her.


The independent information website Vecherka published a story on April 6 about Jahongiri in which she made accusations against Ibrohimov and added that he had sometimes insulted and humiliated her in front of clients.


The showroom took orders for some 40 new outfits that Jahongiri was responsible for making, plus she had her own work. She admitted in the Vecherka story that she did not know how she would have enough time to work on the new orders and her own collection.


On March 13, Ibrohimov reportedly told Jahongiri she was working too slowly. “He started to humiliate me, told me I was slow, I didn’t know how to do anything…and that he could do all the work in two hours.”


So, Jahongiri said, she threw the fabric down and told him, “Sew it yourself!”


Jahongiri said Ibrohimov grabbed her by the throat and pinned her against the wall. She said Ibrohimov’s cousin had to separate them.


She quit and later told Radio Liberty’s Tajik Service, known locally as Radio Ozodi, that she told her story to Vecherka so that young women would not be afraid or stay silent about violence or harassment in the workplace.


Ibrohimov sued Jahongiri for defamation, saying her accusations had damaged his reputation, but he also sued Vecherka for libel, even though the daily had contacted Ibrohimov and included his comments in the story.


Ibrohimov told Vecherka that Jahongiri had worked slowly and the fashion project was losing money. He also admitted that he was “demanding” and said that “everyone I work with knows this.”


A court in Dushanbe’s Firdavsi district court ruled in favor of Ibrohimov and ordered Jahongiri and Vecherka to each pay 2,000 somoni (about US$200), which Ibrohimov said he will give to charity.


Jahongiri and Vecherka plan to appeal the court verdict.


In a recent article in The Diplomat, an international news and politics website, the head of Internews in Tajikistan, Vadim Sadonshoyev, said the court ruling against Jahongiri and Vercherka set a precedent that will deter independent media from reporting on gender-based violence.


Source: Asia Plus