Gangs assault unIslamic Chechen girls
The only thing Madina remembers about the bearded men who drove up as she walked with a girlfriend through the centre of Grozny,the Chechen capital,is they were wearing traditional Islamic dress.She and her friend were not.
Suddenly,the men were firing paint pellets at them from only a few yards away.Their dresses were splattered.
Shame on you! Put a headscarf on! one of the assailants shouted before speeding off.Dress properly,you whores! I was shocked, said Madina,29.The incident was one of many in an increasingly sinister campaign of intimidation which has the backing of Ramzan Kadyrov,Chechnyas authoritarian president.It aims to force women to wear not only the headscarf but also long skirts and sleeves.
Dozens of women such as Madina have been harangued and attacked by Islamist thugs because they were deemed to be dressed immodestly : skirts must be below the knee and sleeves below the elbow,according to the assailants.One girl lost an eye after being hit by a paintballer.
Atabayeva was one of at least a dozen women who told of harassment or attacks. One of the women's assailants told Reuters "hundreds" of women had been warned.
Atabayeva said earlier she had seen a group of men with automatic rifles taunting women for not wearing headscarves.
A woman in her mid-30s said she was punched in the face by a man in Islamic dress after refusing to put on a headscarf he had given her.The gangs sometimes film their victims on mobile phones.The footage is posted on the web to shame them and their families.The onslaught from religious radicals has provoked indignation in Chechnya,a predominantly Muslim republic which has been ravaged by two particularly brutal wars between Russia and Islamic militants.