Why This Dictator Wants To Ban Women From Social Media

Photo: AP Photo.
Ramzan Kadyrov is the President of Chechnya, a wildly popular Instagrammer, and apparently, a pretty next-level misogynist. After protests this weekend over the wedding of a 17-year-old girl and a local police chief at least 30 years her senior, Kadyrov is encouraging Chechen men to keep their wives away from social media — and to lock them up if necessary.

According to reporters in Russia,  people have been furious that the teenager was forced to go through with the marriage, which is illegal under Russian law; the young girl, who became the police chief's second wife, was coerced under threat of violence. The man, named Nazhud Guchigov, has children who are older than his new wife.

Outrage over the marriage grew as the story spread via WhatsApp. The BBC reported that Kadyrov, in response, instructed men to keep their women away from social feeds: "Lock them in, do not let them go out; then they will not post anything," he said on state television. Criticism, he added, is un-Chechen and hurts family honor. "Do not write such things. Men, do take your women out of WhatsApp."

The attitudes in Russia, which claims authority over Chechnya, are no better. When asked about the situation last week, the Russian official in charge of children's rights said, “There are places where women are already shriveled at age 27, and by our standards they look like they’re 50. And, in general, the Russian constitution forbids interference in citizens’ personal lives." (Tell that to the residents of eastern Ukraine.)

Chechnya is a dangerous place for critics. A reporter who covered the teen-bride story fled the country just before the wedding, saying she had received threats. The Daily Beast said that while there were many conversations about the injustice of the situation, fear of government forces and their allies kept people out of the streets. Hopefully Kadyrov's words won't actually lead the men of his country to imprison their wives and remove them from the Internet, too.
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