Last Updated: Friday, 27 May 2016, 08:49 GMT

Tajik Migrants' Wives Fight for Alimony

Publisher Institute for War and Peace Reporting
Publication Date 31 January 2011
Cite as Institute for War and Peace Reporting, Tajik Migrants' Wives Fight for Alimony, 31 January 2011, available at: [accessed 29 May 2016]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

The divorce rate is rising in southern Tajikistan as temporary emigrants settle down abroad, leaving their ex-wives to fend for themselves with no alimony payments. 

Officials in the ten districts which make up the southern Kulob region say 100 divorces involving husbands abroad were recorded last year, but others say the real figure is much higher if marriages concluded according to the Islamic rite but not registered with the secular authorities are counted.

Gulchehra Murodova runs an advice centre which received hundreds of applications for help last year from women trying to claim alimony from absent ex-husbands.

"My husband went to Russia and didn't come back," one mother-of-five told IWPR. "He divorced me over the phone, and he doesn't take care of us. The children can't go to school so they work at the market pushing barrows. That's how we pay the rent and get by."

"Divorce by phone" is a fairly common phenomenon, where the husband cites a local reading of Islamic law in which it is sufficient to recite the formula "taloq, taloq, taloq" over the phone.

Unlike many in this position, this interviewee had a wedding certificate and birth certificates for the children, but she was nevertheless unsuccessful with her divorce claim in court.

In Tajikistan, husbands are legally bound to provide for their children, including after a divorce, but this becomes difficult to enforce when they are in another country, and especially if the marriage has not been registered and a subsequent statement of divorce thus carries no legal force.

A representative of the Kulob court, Furqat Rahmatulloev, said alimony rulings could not be delivered if either party was absent from the courtroom, and while there was provision to order payments out of state funds in the absence of the husband, this could only happen if the husband could be located, which was rare in the case of migrant workers.

Typically working in Russia, Tajik migrants often settle down, remarry with or without securing a formal divorce, and take out citizenship.

For more on this subject, see Plight of "Abandoned Wives" in Tajikistan.

This audio programme, in Russian and Tajik, went out on national radio stations in Tajikistan, as part of IWPR project work funded by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Copyright notice: © Institute for War & Peace Reporting

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