Salima shares her story with us:
“During the winter months, my husband would travel to Russia for work. When he came home in the summer, he was abusive. He drank a lot (a habit he picked up in Russia), which brought our family only sadness, tears and frequent conflicts. It created an unhealthy family environment."
Constant arguments meant I always felt threatened and it was impossible for my children to do their homework or even simply enjoy evenings at home. I know at times they wished to leave and never come back again. I felt it all.
"What would make it worse was, the money my husband earned in Russia wouldn’t last very long, and soon we would be struggling with the food and household expenses. This created even more tension.
But this has changed thanks to International Alert and their partners. I got involved in their ‘Zinadagii Shoista’ (Living with dignity) project, where I attended business development and behavioural change sessions. They not only helped me to understand how to create a healthier family environment but also how I can financially help my family by starting a business."
When my husband joined the sessions, the results were obvious. He has changed, he has stopped drinking. My husband has become more responsible and regrets a lot of his previous actions, especially hurting his family. He is more supportive, calm and easy to interact with now.
"This has transformed our day to day lives. He also no longer goes to Russia, for which we are extremely happy.
We have now been able to expand our cattle breeding business as well. We both work together now to sell milk and dairy products we are producing. This is now our main source of income.
We have even managed to rent one hectare of land because of it, which has yielded a good wheat harvest and vegetables. We’re hoping soon we will be able to grow enough not only for our own consumption but also to sell on.
I would love to see this work expanded to involve young boys and girls because they will establish families in the near future and should be prepared to respect and “live with dignity” with one another.”
About the ‘Zinadagii Shoista’ (Living with dignity) project:
Half of all women in Tajikistan are thought to be regularly subjected to physical, psychological and sexual violence. Most cases go unreported because cultural and social norms condone the behaviour and prevent women and girls from seeking help.
Our Zinadagii Shoista project helps to protect at-risk women from the possibility of violence by creating a more positive environment, with financial independence. To ensure lasting change, the whole family come together to discuss and improve the role of wives and daughters in the family.
In turn, this helps communities change their attitudes toward sexual and gender-based violence.
Listen to Salima's story in Tajik:
Photos: © Aziz Sattori/International Alert