An ethnographic study of domestic violence and divorce in Uzbekistan: what is more important, to be free or to be alive?
Abstract: The aim of this paper has been to provide a socio-legal analysis of domestic violence and divorce in secular Uzbekistan. The legislation express that men and women are equal to the law, that any kind of discrimination is forbidden and judicial divorce is possible. However, domestic violence is socially accepted through social norms and traditions while to seek divorce is viewed as a shameful act. Hence, a legal culture exists on the side of Uzbek legislation. In an effort to find the reason behind the persistence and continued prevalence of domestic violence two theories have been used, Ehrlich’s living law and dominance theory. Ethnographic field research has been conducted in the city of Tashkent as well as in the Ferghana region, both situated in Uzbekistan, between January to April 2017. My results can be summarized in three main points: (a) victims of domestic violence are aware of their legal rights but prefer to follow the established legal culture instead of seeking legal justice, (b) experiences of domestic violence does not lead to divorce application, (c) Islam is used by formal and informal social structures to justify violence against women and shame the same from seeking divorce.
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