Chechnya is one of the poorest of Russia’s republics. Women living here are caught between resurgent Islam and a brutal regime. Polygamy – illegal under Russian law – is supported, and encouraged, by the Chechen President. In its macho culture, the rights of women count for very little.
Often, if a man decides to marry, instead of courting his bride-to-be, he kidnaps her. Images of these kidnaps are posted on the internet. The only person who can stop the marriage taking place is the Mullah, who acts as an intermediary between the ‘bride’s’ and ‘groom’s’ families. He has a week to broker a deal before the wedding takes place.
This World reveals the tense and painful negotiations with both families as the fate of a young kidnapped bride-to-be is decided over the course of a few days.
Mullahs are also involved in another aspect of the often fractious relationship between the sexes in Chechnya: exorcism of ‘possessed women’. It is used on women who are suffering ‘bad marriages’. Over 63,000 women have been referred to the Centre for Islamic Medicine since it opened in 2009.
The film also explores the wider issues in Chechen society including the growth of Islamic influence, Chechen national identity and its relationship with Russia.
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Spotlight is a Link TV weekly presentation of investigative reports from around the world. Commentary is provided by host Lakshmi Chaudhry, who has been a reporter and editor for independent publications, including Mother Jones, Wired News and AlterNet, for over six years. She is currently a senior editor at In These Times.