Tajikistan’s Interior Ministry is cracking down on prostitution, detaining over 500 sex workers during the campaign’s first few days. Activists say detainees are being subjected to blackmailing threats and beatings while in custody.
Interior Minister Ramazon Rahimzoda launched the operation in early June after publicly expressing concern about the growth of “immoral crimes,” including prostitution (an administrative offense) and human trafficking. “People who are detained for immoral crimes or have venereal diseases, their names, photos and fingerprints will be entered to a special electronic database,” the BBC’s Tajik Service quoted Rahimzoda as saying on June 5.
Sex workers who were detained had to undergo tests; the results showed 450 out of 505 detainees were carrying some sort of sexually transmitted disease (STD), the Interior Ministry said on June 12. Several dozen were fined. The ministry also said three people were detained for “homosexual conduct,” but on what grounds is unclear since homosexuality is not illegal in Tajikistan.
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Tamiris Esfandiar is the pseudonym for a Dushanbe-based journalist.