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Woman denied passport in Chechnya for not having ‘male guarantor’

10 February 2023
Chechnya's Department of Migration Photo: Caucasian Knot

Chechen authorities have reportedly refused to issue a woman a passport because she was not accompanied by a male relative.

On Tuesday, NC SOS Crisis Group, a queer rights organisation operating in the North Caucasus representing the woman, reported that their lawyer had filed a complaint in connection with the refusal to issue a passport.

‘Employees of the Migration Department demand that the girl’s “guarantor” — an older male relative — be present,’ the group’s statement read, adding that they could not reveal their client’s identity for security reasons.

They stated that requiring a woman to be accompanied by a male relative to issue a passport was illegal.

Svetlana Anokhina, a Daghestani journalist and founder of Marem, a group offering legal and psychological assistance to North Caucasian women at risk, agreed with this assessment.

‘This [is done to ensure] control over women and young people. Chechnya, and in general the Russian Federation, are built on this control,’ Anokhina said, adding that Chechnya was the only North Caucasian republic that demanded the presence of a male relative for issuing passports to women.

Anokhina said that she learned of the policy last year when she was approached by a Chechen woman who was similarly refused a passport. 

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‘She finally received her passport because she found a [male] relative who didn’t live in Chechnya but came to Grozny and confirmed that the family was aware [that the woman was receiving a passport],’ said Anokhina.

Following the incident, Anokhina wrote about several other cases in which women in Chechnya were denied passports because they were not escorted by an adult male relative.

‘All this is not regulated [in the law], there is no such decree, it is impossible to say how old [the man who signs the document] should be,’ Anokhina said.

She added that ‘male guarantors’ were also held accountable for their female relatives’ actions.

‘If a woman appears in the news or her relatives declare the woman wanted, the man [will be asked to answer, probably in the state agencies about] why he helped her to escape, for example’, she told OC Media.

‘This is absolutely illegal, even according to the incomplete laws of the Russian Federation. And Chechnya is the region in which our state began to try full and total control over citizens.’