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Role of Women in Russia and Chechnya

The first time the world ever heard about Chechnya was during the First Russian-Chechen War (1994-96).The conflict began upon the collapse of the Soviet Union when Chechnya declared its independence from Russia in 1991. Soon it escalated into a full-scale war, followed by the Second Chechen War in 1999-2000(Politkovskaya, 2003, p. 4).

Chechen history is one in which women have consistently been political objects. Marriages were strictly prohibited. In an elaborate intertribal marital system, women were largely commoditized as objects of political exchange. In other words, women were used for economic and/or political “interchange” between different tribes (Jaimoukha, 2005, p. 131).

Attacks by Chechen militants are the most deadly. They killed more individuals per incident than other global events of suicide bombing. Nearly 70 per cent of identified suicide bombers from Chechnya have been female (Reuter, 2004, p. 5).  

Despite the subordinate position of women in Chechen society, women played a particular role in matters of war and peace. Chechen mothers decided whether their sons will fight with the anti-Russian resistance (Reuter, 2004, p.168).

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One significant result of the first Russian-Chechen war was women's increased employment as prostitutes in the service of Russian soldiers. Women were both sex workers and weapons sellers (Politkovskaya, 2003, p. 44).

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Therefore, for centuries Chechen women have been visible objects of political, economic and social engagement. They have been mothers of sons, prostitutes for Russian soldiers, and victims of rape as a strategy and as an unfortunate consequence of war. In modern Chechen society, they still play the same discriminated role.

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