An ordinary story of a simple village woman

June 2021

Read the inspiring account of a woman who was once a beneficiary of NGO Bonuvoni Pyanj’s support services and now gives talks and provides training to other volunteers at the organisation. Bonuvoni Pyanj, Tajikistan, received a grant in 2020 for a project focusing on raising awareness of domestic violence within 10 communities in the Pyanj province, working with four other NGOs.

Tokhirova Sobira (we changed her name at her request) was born in 1967. A very ordinary village woman with a very ordinary life. After leaving school she entered the medical college in Kurgan-Tyube, but only studied there for a year, because she was forced to marry a dental technology student. As is traditional, the marriage was between close relatives – her mother and her husband’s father were cousins. As a result, her first three children died in infancy, and her surviving daughter had a congenital disability, a cleft lip. After she was born, a further four girls were born, and a boy, who was the last to be born, did not survive. Her husband and mother-in-law began to blame Sobira for these events, her husband started drinking heavily and beat his wife daily. Then he expelled her from the home, and brought in a new woman, who in fact did not produce any children. He also blamed this fact on Sobira, claiming that she went to sorcerers and deliberately caused harm.

That is how Sobira lived her whole life, and nobody helped her. Only after our CSO’s project started, with support from the BEARR Trust, Sobira found the courage to tell her story to young women and their parents. She became one of the most active of our supporters and defenders, and at all our events she told people what had happened to her. After that we secured resources to teach our women to sew, and a local businessman donated sewing machines and found them a workspace. He said that had it not been for our project he would not have known how cruel the lives of our women can be, and decided to help. So Sobira now not only earns a decent wage but also trains volunteers in our organisation. She says it is important for her to feel useful, that she can help in word and deed, and that her efforts help to prevent violence.


Rustam Bakhridinov

Translated by BEARR trustee, Janet Gunn

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