Tajiks tackle divorce rate with naan bread

Naan bread Image copyright Alamy

Schools in northern Tajikistan are teaching girls homemaking skills in an attempt to slow the country's divorce rate, it's reported.

On the orders of Sughd Governor Abdurahmon Qodiri, 530 of the region's 912 secondary schools have already had clay tandoor ovens installed for baking naan bread, and 840 have stoves for preparing national dishes like mantou and pilau. The schools have also received 300 looms for weaving traditional carpets and wall-hangings, with expert teachers on hand to instruct their charges.

Muzaffar Yunusov, Mr Qodiri's press secretary, told the Ferghana.ru website that the aim of is "to prevent the collapse of young families", alleging that one reason for local divorces is that "brides can often neither sew on a button nor prepare a meal". Tajik official statistics show a steady rise in divorces in recent years and, since 2012, a decline in the registration of marriages, the site said.

Some teachers and doctors, while approving of the move, express reservations at this narrow focus on domestic skills - not to mention the suggestion that the bride is somehow to blame. Dr Faroghat Sodriddinova of Kanibodom Central Hospital says broader education is more of a problem: "Experience shows that young families fall apart when one partner is illiterate or semi-literate". Khujand headmaster Fayzullo Fayziyev says the decisive factor in the failure of marriages is not baking, but money. "We need more jobs that pay a decent wage if we want to halt divorces," he warns.

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