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We have reported that the police detain females in Ashgabat restaurants, cafes and on the streets in the evening hours. Now law-enforcement authorities have launched similar campaigns in the provinces.
On 13 and 14 February a special raid was conducted by the police officers in Dashoguz, the administrative centre of Turkmenistan’s northern province.
Police vehicles approached cafes or restaurants, police officers went inside to search for women. If a woman was accompanied by a male companion at the table, the couple had to prove their marital status by showing relevant documents. If they failed to show documents, police officers demanded that a female went with them to the police station until a spouse brought back the marriage certificate. The females unaccompanied by men were detained and transported to the police station.
Furthermore, police officers checked with restaurant owners whether some tables had been reserved for corporate parties or Valentine’s day. They were also warned that “St. Valentine’s day is not celebrated in Turkmenistan. This is a request of the authorities”.
Local observers note that supporters of radical Islamic groups popularly referred to as Wahhabi serve as police officers. They fight for morals even without any instructions from higher-ranking authorities and often stop females wearing skirts or trousers and warn that the latter are supposed to “wear long outfits”.