Local Expert Troubled by Open Border, Lack of Education in Tajikistan
The social and economic consequences of narcotics trafficking in Central Asia have become increasingly problematic in recent months. EurasiaNet spoke with Tatiana Abdushukurova, Ph.D., Program Director of the Open Society Institute Assistance Foundation in Tajikistan and Assistant Professor of Political Science at Tajik State National University in Dushanbe, about the impact of the drug trade in Tajikistan.
EurasiaNet: Is there something the international community can do to help fight the drug-trafficking problem in Tajikistan?
Abdushukurova: All interested countries that have representatives in Tajikistan and neighboring countries should provide assistance. Without these efforts, Tajikistan cannot solve the drug trafficking problem. The Customs Service in particular can shape experiences. In fact, OSIAF-Tajikistan is giving a grant to allow them to conduct training seminars and educate them about civilized procedures and profiling techniques. This is not yet gender-specific training that would teach Customs how to deal differently with men and women, but more general training that will stress the importance of civilized procedures.
EurasiaNet: How is the Tajik government making progress in dealing with the drug trafficking crisis?
It is making progress by creating security zones and treaties and agreements to decrease the problem. Law enforcement activities and programs have been started as well as collaboration between border-site districts.
Abdushukurova: Is the drug-trafficking problem worse than in Soviet times?
During Soviet times the border with Afghanistan was kept locked. Now it is open, and Tajikistan does not have the financial resources or the experienced soldiers to keep it under control. Tajikistan cannot survive without these fundamentals if the border remains open. This open border is a problem. And as for the women, they have no opportunities to earn money to feed their family now. A friend of one woman can come to her and explain that she can make $300 dollars in one day and can advise her to participate in the drug trafficking so she can feed her family. So this different economic situation is of primary importance because the woman can take the advice of her friend without realizing the legal consequences.
EurasiaNet: What are some options to ensure that women are aware of the legal consequences of participating in drug trafficking?
Abdushukurova: Because women in Tajikistan are increasingly less educated, they don't think about those consequences. They don't realize that if they make $300 in one day selling or bringing in drugs that they could be put in prison. Tajikistan needs to make women aware of the consequences through mass media, television, and advertising. The international NGOs could give seminars, training, and workshops that would alert Tajik women to the risks associated with participating in the transportation of drugs. And it needs to be put in the context of a legal education, so they can understand the laws and how they affect them.
EurasiaNet: What is the drug-fighting effort for?
Abdushukurova: Drug interdiction has a political use, but it is also important for the country to be strong and be able to differentiate itself from other countries in the region that are not making the same effort. The social and economic consequences of drug-trafficking are problematic to the society as a whole, so in order to create a better way of life, we need to make an effort to fight the transportation of drugs.