Turkmen Woman Fined 1,000 Manats for Prostitution for Clothes Worth 40 Manats

A mother of three from a village in Turkmenistan has been fined 1,000 manats for prostitution. A court established that she had engaged in sexual intercourse with a man in an open field and received in payment clothes worth 40 manats. The verdict was delivered in 2015, but it has only just been sent to turkmen.news by a source in the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

Living standards have deteriorated continuously in Turkmenistan in recent years. More and more families are on the edge of destitution, when all they can manage on their monthly income is to avoid starvation. Healthy, tasty food, new clothes, and other everyday items are an unattainable luxury that can be acquired only through enormous effort. 

In 2020 unemployment and a lack of money led a resident of Lebap region to sit down in the middle of the road and declare that she wanted to be run over. Her spontaneous act of protest was recorded on video. Now it has emerged that five years earlier poverty had driven citizens to acts of the utmost despair.

According to the court verdict, on April 10, 2015 the woman, born in 1983, married, and the mother of three children, had sexual intercourse with a man in an open field in Ruhubelent district, Dashoguz region. In exchange he gave her a dress worth 20 manats and sleeveless jumper, also worth 20 manats.

According to Article 360 of Turkmenistan’s Code on Administrative Offenses, engaging in prostitution is punishable by a fine of 10 to 20 base units or 36 to 60 hours of community service. The woman in question received the mildest punishment. On May 1, 2015 in Gorogly district, Dashoguz region, judge Merdan Tachmammedov fined her ten base units which at that time were equivalent to 1,000 manats. 

But what is 1,000 manats to a woman ready to sell her body for 40 manats? Where could she get the money to pay the fine, if simply buying a dress and jumper were out of reach? Sadly, it’s clear from the sentence that this is impossible. Turkmen.news doesn’t know what happened to the woman later. 

At the state level in Turkmenistan a great deal of attention is paid to the “respectable” appearance and behavior of women. The authorities keep strict watch to ensure that female employees in the public sector wear national dress and do not take such liberties as bleaching their hair. In 2022 the authorities restricted the work of beauty salons. And if a woman spends too much time on her appearance, her husband can beat her for it. But what can be done if everyday poverty leads a woman to commit such flagrant “impropriety”? It is the poorest women who sometimes face this difficult choice.