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Azerbaijani feminists roast MP over domestic violence comments

12 January 2021
Fargana Abdulla. Photo via Youtube.

A group of Azerbaijani feminist activists have created a video mocking an MP for his comments in parliament on domestic violence and feminism.

In a satirical video titled ‘The Introduction to Gender Science with Razi Nurullayev’, feminist collective Fem-Utopia poked fun at comments by Razi Nurullayev, the founder and sole MP from the National Front Party. 

‘The Milli Majlis [Azerbaijan’s parliament] has discussed gender equality. Excited? Unfortunately, this equality is not the one you are thinking of’, the video says in it’s opening.

The topic of gender equality was discussed during a plenary session of parliament on 30 December. 

Nurullayev, opened his speech, which he has since deleted from YouTube, by casting doubt on the existence of gender-based violence.

‘Ordinary violence is even described as a violation of women’s rights’, he said in his speech. ‘It is not right to describe domestic problems as gender [in]equality. Everyone’s rights can be violated, whether they are women or men.’

‘A woman is a flower and it is a man’s duty and responsibility to protect it’, he added.

Responding to his comments, Fem-Utopia referred to the 2019 report by the State Committee on Family, Women, and Children.

‘To protect? According to statistics in 2019, 1,308 crimes related to domestic violence were committed. The number of women victims was 1,038, twelve of them were minors’, the video said. According to official statistics, around 70% of women who are physically or sexually abused in Azerbaijan never seek help from government agencies.

Although official statistics on the nature of domestic violence in Azerbaijan is limited, local news site Mikroskop Media examined cases of domestic violence covered in local media sources in 2019.

They found that of 184 women subjected to domestic violence, 82 were attacked by their husbands, 14 by their brothers, and 10 by a son-in-law. Fifty-four of the cases ended fatally.

Mikroskop examined the reported motivation for the attacks, with a family conflict being cited in 40 cases, jealousy in 23, and a desire for separation in nine of the cases.

During his speech in parliament, MP Razi Nurullayev also warned of the supposed dangers of feminism. ‘Gender equality and women’s rights must not be abused to spread immorality in society. Gender equality is about increasing women’s responsibility for the development of society. Unfortunately, some feminist women believe that equality is irresponsibility, domination over men. No, it’s exactly the opposite’, he concluded.

Responding to this point, Fem-Utopia said that ‘88% of teachers are women, 66% of doctors are also women, child upbringing is a woman’s responsibility as well. It seems like there is still space, bring in more responsibility, bring it on, bring it on’. 

Nurullayev also elaborated on what he said was acceptable behaviour considering the local culture. 

‘Whether it is men or women, to demonstratively drink wine, smoke, adorn social networks with photos that are contrary to our culture in various forms, act in a way that can affect the morals of our youth in recreational areas cannot be considered gender equality.’

In their reply, the group quipped that ‘to demonstratively commit an election fraud, becoming an MP without the knowledge of the people, staying in people’s memory with ridiculous speeches, well, this is not how you do MP work’.

The February 2020 parliamentary elections in Azerbaijan were accompanied by widespread reports of violence and electoral violations.

The host of the video, Fargana Abdulla, told OC Media that they reacted to Nurullayev’s speech because politicians and intellectuals had long used insulting rhetoric regarding women’s bodies and lifestyles. 

‘Nurullayev’s speech in Parliament was the last straw for us’, she said. For her, the video is a statement to all such politicians that: ‘enough is enough’. ‘Do the jobs you are there for’, she concluded.

Razi Nurullayev did not respond to a request for clarification on his speech or the reaction to it.

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