A place to feel free

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A place to feel free


A member of the social club hides her face – security and privacy are a problem for young people in Chechnya. © No named credit for security reasons

A group of young people from Chechnya are fighting to save their social club. This is the only place where they can talk about politics, do theatre, practise their English and dress how they want to. This is not unusual in the West – but it’s very unusual here in Chechnya.

Grozny, the capital, has now been re-built, after the two wars of the 1990s and early 2000s. The city looks good, but Chechens still have a lot of psychological damage. Young people were born too late to see much of the war, but many families still suffer.

The club is very different from the sad Chechen history. ‘Our members often say, the club is a place where people can feel relaxed. There is no limit on our personal safety or freedom of expression. People listen to you here,’ says one young man. ‘The club is not the only place where young men and women can mix, but it’s the only place where a girl can go and not worry that her skirt is long enough or if she’s wearing a headscarf,’ says a young woman. ‘In other places, you need to wear a long skirt, a long-sleeved shirt and headscarf, and not show any hair.’

Another member of the club says: ‘Our club is independent, equal and democratic. This is the only place in Chechnya where you can see this.’

Eight months ago the club lost its home. It is still running, but it the club really needs a permanent place to meet. Club members now meet in places that are not suitable and not reliable. But they are now raising money so they can rent a flat to meet in regularly.

The club’s organizers do not want to ask big companies for money because it’s not very safe to be so public, and because they want to keep the club equal for all. So they’re asking the public – quietly, so they don’t get too much attention, so the club will not be in danger. And they hope they can have a room of their own.

Look at this link: http://www.gofundme.com/8wb4lk

NOW READ THE ORIGINAL: http://newint.org/sections/agenda/2014/11/01/chechnya-social-club/ (This article has been simplified so the words, text structure and quotes may have been changed.)