At the end of October, a story about two women who had a conflict between them surfaced on the Internet in Tajikistan. For one, it ended in a coma, for the other – in custody. Dushanbe activists and relatives of the victim explained the conflict as follows: the first wife beat the second. However, when covering this case, local journalists diligently avoided the topic of polygamy, which in Tajikistan, despite legal prohibitions, has become a widespread phenomenon.
The “new reporter” followed the situation.
At the end of October, a short story from an anonymous author surfaced in a large group of the Tajik segment of Facebook: a young woman is in a coma in a city hospital after being severely beaten, and the alleged criminal is at large (now the post has been deleted – author’s note). A few days later, the details of this tragedy were reported by local activists on their pages. From their descriptions it became clear that the first wife took her husband’s second wife outside the city and beat her. All this happened in August, but no one was brought to justice.
A little later, the activists published an appeal to the Tajik authorities with a request to punish the criminals.
“On August 25 at 2 o’clock in the afternoon, the girl Madina was taken away in an unknown direction, and on August 26 at 3 am they called her mother and said that her daughter was in intensive care. Where was the victim all this time? Why was the girl taken to the hospital with signs of violence and the police were not called? The victim was all blue, and there were traces of the strangulation on her neck. The girl was unconscious, on the verge of life and death. On the morning of August 26, the mother of the victim wrote a statement to the Sino 2 police station, but for some reason it was considered only on September 6. A lot of why arises in this case. There is a crime, there is a victim, but there is no criminal, ”wrote one of the Dushanbe activists Zulya Rakhmatova (spelling and punctuation of the author are preserved).
This post was published on October 28, by which time the whole of Dushanbe was only talking about the tragedy that had happened, while the names of all the participants and their places of work were named. A day after the publication of the post on the website of the Asia-Plus media group, the first message appeared that the public was demanding that the perpetrators of the Madina case be punished. The journalists explained: they tried to get comments from the country’s Interior Ministry and from the victim’s relatives, but to no avail. A day later, Asia-Plus managed to talk to the lawyer of the victim’s family and find out that a criminal case had not even been instituted in this case.
The names of the parties to the conflict in the first two messages “Asia-Plus” did not name. All other independent media remained silent. They began to talk about this story only after the mayor of the capital, the son of the President of Tajikistan, Rustam Emomali, held a meeting with the heads of the law enforcement agencies of the capital. There it was stated: a criminal case was opened on this incident, two suspects were detained, the Davlyatovs – Parviz (Lutfullo according to passport) and Aziza.
Journalists in the headlines of their first publications about this story boldly put the phrase “Madina’s case”, knowing full well that their entire audience is already aware of what happened. However, they still gave some explanations in their backrands, and these explanations looked something like this:
“FB users reported that a young woman was abducted and severely beaten by the wife of the man she was dating. Later it became known that Madina was severely beaten by Aziz Davlyatov, the wife of her colleague Lutfullo Davlyatov, out of jealousy of her husband, ”wrote Radio Ozodi.
Or like this:
“It was alleged on social media that the victim was abducted and severely beaten by Aziza Davlyatova, the wife of the man she was dating,” reported Your.tj.
Or like this:
“According to the preliminary version, the girl was severely beaten. The suspect in the case is citizen A. D., who presumably could thus avenge the victim for her relationship with her husband, “Sputnik Tajikistan told about the incident.
However, not all media outlets even tried to explain what happened. For example, NIAT “Khovar” limited itself to simply reporting that “the meeting discussed the progress of the preliminary investigation and the work done in the case of bodily harm to citizen Madina Mamadzhonova”.
The details of why the criminal case was not opened earlier, why Parviz (Lutfullo), with all the ambiguity of his figure, was also arrested, and what the mayor of the city had to do with it. The fact that the victim was the second wife of Parviz (Lutfullo), too.
The next day, November 2, after the first official reports, Radio Ozodi told what everyone already knew:
Parviz (Lutfullo) is the son of a former high-ranking official. His father, Davlatali Davlatzoda, is a former first deputy chairman of the ruling People’s Democratic Party of Tajikistan and a member of the lower house of parliament. In an interview with reporters, he said that his daughter-in-law Aziza Davlyatova, and not her son, should be held accountable before the law.
“Now they are going to bring charges against Parviz, but what he is guilty of, I don’t understand,” he said.
A day later, Radio Ozodi contacted the father of the injured Madina:
“When I arrived in Dushanbe, Madina’s mother told me that she was in fact, well, as they say there, in Tajikistan, she was the second wife, but for me, in my understanding, she was a mistress. She was the mistress of Parviz Davlyatov. She said that Madina had done nikah, and Madina was his second wife. I didn’t know about these details, and in general, the details of Madina’s personal life were carefully hidden from me by my mother, ”he told reporters.
However, Radio Ozodi did not develop this theme further.
A week after the mayor of the city took up this case, first the head of the district MIA, then the deputy district prosecutor was dismissed from his posts. A conversation with lawyers and human rights defenders was published on the website of this publication. The journalists discussed the reasons why the criminal case was opened only after Rustam Emomali drew attention to the “Madina case”.
The rest of the independent popular publications completely stopped covering this story, despite the fact that Madina is still in a serious condition, and the details of the case have remained unknown. The audience on social networks themselves began to parse the shocking story. People were divided into two camps: those who justified Aziza, who “defended the honor of the family,” and those who pitied Madina. Polygamy was also discussed very hotly in these conversations, because this topic for Tajikistan has become one of the most painful in recent years. Of course, statistics on polygamy are not kept in the republic, but in 2018 it was noted that about 10% of men in the country have more than one wife. At the same time, local journalists prefer to either joke about this topic, or turn a blind eye to it.
Whereas their colleagues from other countries drew attention to Madina’s status and, using an informational occasion, immediately reminded of the existing problem. For example, Mediazona has already published the first material on this case under the heading “A married couple from Dushanbe is suspected of attempted murder and torture of their second wife”. In the text of this message, the journalists specified: “The information that Mamadzhonova was a mistress has been corrected. She was Davlyatov’s second wife. ” Next, Mediazona released a longread with stories of Tajik women who decided to become second wives, commentaries by experts on this topic and descriptions of all the problems caused by polygamy.
In the material published on the Radio Azzatyk website, Madina was called “the second wife,” albeit in quotation marks, and noted that this phenomenon is a criminal offense, but widespread in Tajikistan.
What prevented local journalists from even calling things by their proper names, as their foreign colleagues did, is not clear. Every resident of Tajikistan has not only heard about polygamy, but also seen it from his friends, neighbors, and colleagues. And most often these are tragic stories that can easily end the way the “Madina case” ended.
And one more thing: neither in the posts of activists, nor in journalistic texts sufficient attention is paid to Parviz (Lutfullo) Davlyatov, because of whom, in fact, the whole conflict took place. In one way or another, the media gave characteristics to both Aziza (“legal wife”, “in a fit of jealousy”) and Madina (“the girl who met him”), but did not try to draw the audience’s attention to who caused the incident. In principle, nothing unexpected – in Tajikistan, a woman will be accused even of what she did not do, what to say about the “Madina case.” So Parviz’s dad (Lutfullo), an educated man, also does not understand what his son did.
Information taken from the site: https://newreporter.org/2021/11/17/devushka-kotoraya-s-nim-vstrechalas-kak-zhurnalisty-v-tadzhikistane-zakryvayut-glaza-na-mnogozhyonstvo/? fbclid=IwAR3t1O76RlNoj 8pXfl7oMCXJr_jxcs-EvPGf8oxfn8AC6Xig