Kyrgyzstan: Police Declare Hunting Season Open for Prostitutes
Earlier this week, the recently appointed acting head of police in Kyrgyzstan’s capital pledged to clear the city of sex workers within a matter of days.
Samat Kurmankulov’s department went a step further on June 16 by suggesting city residents organize their own raids on brothels and take photographs of prostitutes and hand them in to the police. The police described its proposal as being a form of “public control.”
Bishkek police spokesman Olzhobai Kazabayev did not specify how the public should identify the prostitutes.
Prostitution is not technically a criminal offense in Kyrgyzstan, but sex workers are nonetheless habitually targeted for harassment by police and self-appointed moral guardians. Kurmankulov said there was still grounds for pursuing prostitutes through the law, however.
“We have to detain and punish them under the hooliganism statute. We have had some results in this. In the space of one day, 25 people providing paid sexual services were brought in to police station entered into police records,” he told news website Zanoza.kg.
In December 2014, a group of traditional felt hat-wearing men with the nationalist-patriotic Kyrk Choro movement raided a karaoke club and made women working there file out, accusing them of prostitution. Filming them on camera, they also grabbed few Chinese men in the establishment and accused them of corrupting the morals of young Kyrgyz women.
Kyrk Choro insisted their raids were given the green light by government agencies, including the Interior Ministry and the National Security Committee, or GKNB. The latter admitted they signed a memorandum with the group on combating corruption in 2012, but insisted the document did not give Kyrk Choro the authority to inspect or raid clubs. The Interior Ministry denied supporting the group and later opened a criminal investigation into the raid, which the police said was conducted illegally.
“We don’t need Kyrk Choro. We have our own [forces]. If it is necessary to secure public order, there are volunteer militias and not Kyrk Choro,” Interior Ministry spokesman Ernis Osmonbaev told Kloop.kg in March 2015, when the leader of the movement, Zamirbek Kochorbaev, was detained and accused of hoologanism and vigilantism. Kochorbaev was later released on bail.
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