Additional regulations to the Kazakh Constitution prohibit rallies and gatherings which have not been coordinated with the authorities. There are two spaces in Almaty and two in the capital Nur-Sultan that are designated for rallies, all far away from the city centre of and random passers-by. This year’s feminist march was not approved or coordinated with the authorities, as activists only notified the local administration that they would march. Five feminist initiatives (KazFem, Feminita, Femagora, Femsreda and the public “SVET” foundation) organised the event.
Gulzada Serzhan, a representative of “Feminita”, commented on the decision to hold the march: “I always quote Nazipa Kulzhanova, an early activist for women’s rights [in Kazakhstan], who said in 1921 that on 8 March, we must remember what rights we have been able to achieve and which we are still deprived of. At today’s march, we wanted not only to support the global women’s struggle for rights, but also to raise the important issue of security for Kazakhstani women.”
As the march started on Zhibek Zholy street in the city centre, the crowd chanted the names of Kazakhstani women who had been killed by their partners. “Have you seen Aisha?”, “Where is Aisha?”, “Do you know where Oksana is?” activists asked passers-by. One of the organisers of the march, Leila Makhmudova, said: “We voiced the names of the victims of domestic violence to show that no one is forgotten. Victims of violence have faces, and these are female faces.”
Despite an official request to disperse, marchers rallied around local police officials in plain clothes onto another pedestrian street. Serzhan and Makhmudova headed the column of activists, carrying a funeral wreath in memory of all victims of domestic violence.Print