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UN Office in Kyrgyzstan responds to scandal around Feminnale

The United Nations encourages Kyrgyzstan to foster public debate on gender equality and women’s human rights, free of intolerance and hatred. Statement of the UN Office in Kyrgyzstan says.

It is noted that the United Nations in the Kyrgyz Republic takes note of current debates on gender equality in the country, coinciding with the worldwide 16-days campaign calling for the elimination of all forms of gender-based violence against women.

«Against this backdrop, the United Nations expresses concern about alarming incidents of intolerance, hate speech and calls to violence, in the wake of the Bishkek-based art exhibition ‘Feminnale’. The art event sparked polarizing discussions, which regrettably descended into numerous instances of deplorable verbal abuse and death threats against artists, women activists and rights defenders,» the statement says.

«Public debate on all societal issues goes hand in hand with growth and development of all modern states. States carry an overriding obligation to ensure that such debate is free from incitement to hatred and violence against women and all groups in society», said Ozonnia Ojielo, United Nations Resident Coordinator in Kyrgyzstan.

The United Nations encourages the Kyrgyz Republic to fulfil its existing obligation under international human rights law and its national laws to prevent and prohibit incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence.

«In line with this commitment, the Kyrgyz Republic is to actively foster an environment in which women and vulnerable groups can safely voice their concerns, freely participate in the public sphere and make use of their right to expression,» the statement says.

The first Feminnale of Contemporary Art is held in Bishkek. The large-scale exposition was opened in the Museum of Fine Arts named after Gapar Aitiev with works of 56 artists from 22 countries.

However, activists were outraged by the performance, which provoked heated discussions on social media about the plight of young women — a girl washing sheep’s intestines in a bowl, or naked women.

The Director of the Kyrgyz National Museum of Fine Arts Mira Dzhangaracheva was hastily dismissed by the Minister of Culture Azamat Zhamankulov.