What does the ban on “beauty services” mean for women in Turkmenistan


Turkmen women are no longer allowed to wear “tight” clothing, and the country’s authorities have banned a range of beauty services, including dyeing/bleaching hair or using false nails or eyelashes.

Other restrictions were imposed on women undergoing cosmetic surgery, such as breast augmentation, lip fillers and even eyebrow microblading, which is widely known among young Turkmen women.

Restrictions on women’s freedom


To mitigate “foreign” trends that harm “Türkmençilik” (i.e. traditional Turkmen values), the Turkmen authority has banned beauty services (including eyelash and nail extensions, eyebrow and lip tattoo designs, beauty injections and hair dye/bleach) and “sexy” fashion accessories in April 2022.

Many condemn the ban, saying the restriction aims to limit Turkmen women, thereby depriving them of their basic freedom. This violates their right to bodily independence and autonomy to dress and groom as they see fit. These prohibitive rules governing women’s appearance date back to when Turkmenistan gained independence from the Soviet Union and established its nation-state.

According to reports, several women have also lost their jobs and work opportunities in recent weeks as a result of alleged breast implants or lip injections.

According to reports, the women were ordered to remove their beauty items and pay fines of around $140, or about half of the ordinary monthly income of Turkmens.

Picking up women who are not family members is also strictly prohibited under the new ban and could lead to heavy penalties for private vehicles with male drivers. Women are also not allowed to sit in the front chair next to the driver. The unofficial restrictions came into effect this month in the tightly regulated Central Asian country, shortly after new President Serdar Berdymukhammedov came to power in the March 12 election in which he replaced his father. .

No announcement?

According to reports, there has been no official announcement or clarification of the recent ban imposed by local governments and law enforcement authorities across the region.

Authorities and management staff, according to office workers, held special meetings to discuss the latest regulations on women’s clothing, beauty routines and appearances, but refused to explain why or present a copy. of the report ordering the restrictions.

According to reports, similar bans have been imposed in the past, but they have never been strictly enforced. The new restriction goes even further by prohibiting jeans and any clothing that is too tight. “The police take their pictures, make a report and fine the women,” reports RadioFreeEurope.

The relationship between gender and national identity

The explanation of national integration, authenticity and identity in Central Asia is part of the concept of “returning to tradition” so that the newly autonomous states distance themselves from the Soviet initiative of women’s independence. Turkmenistan sought to “re-traditionalize” the nation during the post-Soviet turn, and women played an important role in establishing a post-Soviet Turkmen identity.


The rejuvenation of Türkmençilik and the reconquest of the Turkmen state manifested itself in calls for “liberated” Soviet women to return to their Turkmen origins. In other words, the nation-building of Turkmenistan was manifested in the development of a “mother,” a powerful symbol of home and national home. Reports indicate that Turkmen women are still actively encouraged to give birth to and raise healthy nationalists, as well as to uphold conventional family values.

According to experts, in Turkmenistan, concerns about women’s fashion, appearance and behavior are mostly about purity and, strangely, male honor. As a result, the shame of women becomes the shame of the community, the shame of the country and the shame of the men of the family. In this context, the perceived disordered female sexuality has a negative effect on the delegitimization of the country and on the honor of men. As a result, women’s purity must be beyond reproach, and men often have a vested interest in controlling their women’s sexuality and sexual behavior.

The diplomat states that there is no better and clear indication of dress and behavior policy in Turkmenistan than the policy of restricting the dress and appearance of women, whether or not these principles are shared by the women on whom they are imposed.

From this perspective, recent beauty restrictions can be seen as an effort to optimize the efficacy of traditional femininity, where women are signifiers of purity, elegance, and modesty.

Women’s rights in Turkmenistan

Article 29 of the Charter of Turkmenistan, as well as Law No. 264-V grants men and women equal civil privileges and benefits. Turkmenistan participated in the 4th World Conference on Women, “Action for Equality, Development and Peace”, in Beijing in 1995. The 189 collaborating authorities, including Turkmenistan, agreed to support the Accord and the Beijing Action System. Later that year, in 1997, Turkmenistan signed the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), then in 2009 it ratified its Optional Protocol.


The Turkmen council implemented the 2021-2025 National Action Plan for Gender Equality in December 2020, which set national goals, targets and preferences to assist and encourage gender equality in all aspects of life, both locally and internationally.

Turkmenistan was elected to the Board of the United Nations Agency for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN-Women) for the period 2020-2024 on April 20, 2021. Despite marginal promises of protect women from discriminatory practices, the women’s rights movement in Turkmenistan is not yet fully implemented.

The Diplomat report states that women and girls are victims of domestic violence, gender-based violence, sexual assault, sex trafficking, virginity tests, forced marriages and cannot buy cigarettes or acquire a driver’s license because they lack bodily independence and self-determination. . All this takes place in the context of Article 16 of Law No. 264-V, which guarantees women equal rights to help manage the relations of the administration, and yet the country has set itself the goal main to control what women wear.

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