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Kyrgyzstan Review, 10 years ago

[11.10.23] Absurd Trial Against Healthy Lifestyle

The trial was described as "absurd" before it even started. After rejecting this unprecedented lawsuit twice, the court took it for consideration after the document was drawn up in the proper way.
What's the matter? Some people believe that the book published in the Kyrgyz, Russian and Uzbek languages with the support of the UNDP and other international organizations contains information insulting the honor and dignity of the Kyrgyz people. Advocates of morality have accused the book's authors of insulting public morals and corrupting the younger generation, and demanded millions to compensate for moral damage. (It's strange, but they did this several years after the book's publication.)
The textbook has been highly evaluated by 13 scholars and international experts and has become an essential teaching tool for sexual education of Kyrgyzstan's schoolchildren. Published with a circulation of 22,000 copies, the book has filled the gap in this kind of literature.
Today Kyrgyzstan sees an increasing incidence of HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases and the Global Fund to Combat AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria has granted Kyrgyzstan US $19 million to fight the diseases. Everyone understands that AIDS is a disease of ignorance and spreading knowledge is the best way to stop the "plague of the 21st century".
Anyway, the trial has begun and representatives of different government agencies are taking part in the hearings. Instead of doing useful things, they now have to waste long hours for this unnecessary show in the court.
These moralists believe they are struggling for a just cause. A Kyrgyz rights advocate, Aziza Abdrasulova, is sure the book contradicts Kyrgyz traditions. "The textbook propagates immoral behavior, approves drug use and tobacco, and we must not allow our children to read it," she said.
"I do not understand why the work of these authors has caused such violent aversion," said Boris Shapiro, general director of Kyrgyzstan's AIDS Association and one of the authors of the book. "They reject the very necessity of teaching young people, which is simply unacceptable."
A scandal occurred after the hearing. When the trial participants left the courtroom, some people with placards (who consider themselves "the true Muslims") approached them. "Jackal! Burn in hell!" they cried addressing Boris Shapiro, and some young men tried to break into his car. Some even spat and made insulting gestures with their fingers. When the TCA photographer, Vladimir Pirogov, started to take pictures, they tried to take his camera. Crowds are unpredictable, but this time, fortunately, it calmed down.
By Elena Skorodumova,
The Times of Central Asia, October 11, 2003

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