Like most residents of her children’s home in Osh, Nargiza is a part-time orphan. Her father disappeared when she was born and her mother works long spells in Russia. Nargiza has no siblings and doesn’t know her grandparents. But she does see her mother from time to time.
When Osh’s Uzbek Music and Drama Theater opened its 94th season last month, the actors looked nervously into the audience. They had not celebrated an opening night for three years, since before the theater was partially burned amid 2010’s ethnic violence in southern Kyrgyzstan.
Recent political changes in Kyrgyzstan have not tempered a brewing social and cultural quandary in southern provinces. An increasing number of citizens of the South are becoming practicing Muslims. For working women in particular this is creating a dilemma, forcing some to choose between their faith and their careers.