Feminist in Hot Water for Campaign about Menstrual Flow

A Kazakh court on Monday fined a feminist and LGBT activist, Zhanar Sekerbayeva, for “hooliganism” after she took part in a campaign aimed at breaking the taboo around menstruation in the country.

Co-founder of the feminist group Feminita, Sekerbayeva, was ordered to pay a fine of $35 by a court in the Central Asian republic’s largest city of Almaty.

She reportedly took part in a photoshoot in the centre of the city on August 9 in which she and other activists held up posters, including a drawing of a woman menstruating over traditional Yurt tents.

“This subject has always been and remains shameful in Kazakh society: we don’t talk about it and we prefer to avoid any discussion of the subject,” Feminita wrote at the time on its website.

A week later, the activist was taken to a police station and charged with minor hooliganism, a crime that can be punished with up to 10 days in jail.

“It’s a shame that activists from the LGBT community are facing judgement for their political views,” Sekerbayeva told AFP following the ruling.

“We didn’t attack anyone. Quite the opposite — during the demonstration we were subject to mockery and condemnation of passersby,” she said, adding that she intended to appeal the judgement.

Reacting to her indictment, Amnesty International denounced the process against her and called on authorities to end any prosecution immediately.

“Rather than addressing the human rights concerns raised by these activists and seeking ways to break down the harmful stigma surrounding menstruation in Kazakhstan, the authorities have opted to shut down the discussion,” said Amnesty’s Eastern Europe and Central Asia researcher Heather McGill.

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