AZERBAIJAN – Single Mothers Struggle With Prejudice
Author: Womens UN Report Network
Date: October 6, 2015
Unmarried women who choose to have children face public scorn.
By Nigyar Musaeva in Baku (WP No. 17, 22-Dec-05)
Azerbaijan: Aitan looks
sadly at a woman carrying a child and sighs. At 34, Aitan is still unmarried and
over time her hope of starting a family has dwindled.
Many women in
Azerbaijan are in the same situation, held back by the prejudice that surrounds
single mothers. For the majority of the population, having a child out of
wedlock is disgraceful and a sign of amorality.
Zarifa Khalilova, 40,
says that when she gave birth to her son several years ago, the district doctor
who came to examine the child insulted her.
“She said that I was probably
a prostitute if I had given birth without a husband,” said Zarifa
outside marriage has long been condemned in Azerbaijan. Although with time,
morals have become a little more relaxed, society continues to take a dim view
of illegitimate children.
It is also financially very difficult to bring
up a child on one’s own in Azerbaijan. Even couples struggle to provide for
Child benefit in Azerbaijan is just 9,000 manats (2 US
dollars) a month – not even enough to buy a box of the cheapest baby food – and
is only available for the poorest sections of society.
women dream of motherhood, others who have been left with a child to look after
complain of how difficult it is.
One such unwilling single mother is
Larisa Gajieva, 28. “I started having problems with my husband when I became
pregnant. He didn’t want a child and insisted on an abortion. But I did not
agree. As a result, he left me in the sixth month of pregnancy and filed for
divorce,” she said.
When they divorce, men often conceal their real
income to avoid paying alimony. Larisa’s husband was also unwilling to pay, and
preferred to forget about his own child altogether. After long and humiliating
court proceedings, she was able to secure alimony of 50,000 manats (ten
However, Larisa says that at that time even this small amount
of money meant a lot for her.
“When you have to count every penny, any
income is important. Now that I am working and have found my feet, I don’t need
this ten dollars anymore,” she said. “But I won’t give it up. In the end, he is
the father of this girl, so he can keep paying until she comes of
Former husbands of single mothers usually refuse to talk about this
topic, and Larisa’s husband claims the child is not his.
who abandoned his child to the care of its mother is 40-year-old Samir Asadov.
He lived in a de facto relationship for a long time with a woman called Vera,
and three years ago a son, Aslan, was born to them.
“The problem is that
my mother was always against our relationship,” said Samir. “She did not think
that Vera was suitable for me. Of course, she did not intend to recognise the
grandchild, and some time after his birth, she forced me to marry one of our
relatives. I couldn’t disobey my mother.”
Only brave and well-off women
can afford to give birth to a child without a husband. Alina Isaeva, 27, is
firmly resolved to have a child whatever her circumstances.
“Even if I
don’t get married, I will still have a child. And I will probably go to a sperm
bank,” she said. “I think this is much more honest than having a child with
someone you don’t love. But before doing this I must find my feet and become
financially independent, so that my future child does not want for
Artificial insemination to help couples unable to have
children is carried out frequently in Baku. But the head of the gynaecological
department of the central clinical hospital says that they are not allowed to
offer single women the treatment.
In general, the issue of artificial
insemination for single women is bewildering for doctors. They say that it is
absolutely uncharacteristic for Azerbaijan.
Indeed, the idea of
artificial insemination seems savage and even sordid to most Azeri women, very
few of whom would actually consider this method of getting pregnant.
for the majority of women who want a child, marriage is still the best option.
Aitan’s parents and relatives are still trying to find her a husband,
although every year this becomes more problematic. But Aitan still hopes that
she will find the right man, and even if family life does not work out, at least
she will have a child – a legitimate
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