Apam Aitkan (Mom Said) | Zere

Commentary by Angelachiara Allegretti | Illustration by Armadilly

Apam Aitkan, in English ‘Mom said’, is the title of the new song by the young Kyrgyz singer and activist Zere Asylbek, become famous in 2018 with the song Kyz (Girl). Released in November 2020, the song is about the harassment women face in Kyrgyzstan and the singer’s own experience. The title refers to the advice that the artist used to receive from her mother, which she recalls in the song: “Mom said not to stay on my own”, “Daughter, girls need to be more careful”, and “Don’t stay out too late.” Asylbek is very present in women’s rights rallies and on social media, denouncing the widespread violation of those rights.

In the music video integrating the song, Asylbek symbolically wears an orange cloak in connection to the 16-day Orange the World global initiative to promote awareness of gender-based violence, which started in November 2020. The video racked up about 11,000 views within a day of being uploaded, and reactions have been mostly positive.

Women’s rights activists are direly needed in Kyrgyzstan, a country which considers the custom of ala-kachuu, literally ‘to take a young woman and run away’, a tradition. Until 2012, this aptly named Soviet practice, involving the kidnapping of young women for marriage, could only be prosecuted if the victim reported its occurrence.  In 2012, the Kyrgyz parliament voted to toughen the penalty for this widely practiced custom, making it punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

However, according to the 2013-2014 report of the UN Committee for the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), based on data collected from the NGO Women Support Center, at least 11,800 women and girls are kidnapped each year in Kyrgyzstan. In in the first six months of 2019 alone, 118 occurrences of ala-kachuu were registered. Besides this, according to the Minister of Internal Affairs, in 2019, a total of 8,159 cases of domestic violence were recorded, a significant increase from the 7,114 cases reported in 2017.

As a matter of fact, despite the calls for action and the damning data showing that this phenomenon is not receding, gender-based violence continues to receive limited attention from local authorities, who make too little efforts to change the situation.

 

 

Баратамын жалгыз

Байланган чачым ынабай калды

Оңго-солго, оңго-солго

Кулагымдагы обон, башта

Жолумдагы койгон ташта

Ойно, ойно, ойно, ойно

Жанымда бир балдар жанымды койбой асылып
алган

Үчөө

Кой десеңда болбойт булар

Атайын ушитип козгойт

Унчукпай кой, унчукпай кой

Алтыга чыкканда апам айткан

Кызым, кыз баласың, абайлагын

Он алтыга чыкканда апам кайталаган

Кызым, кыз баласың, абайлагын

Абайлагын

Абайлагын

Абайлагын

Балким жакшы балдар

Балким бир нерсе түшүрүп алгам

Ким билет? Ким билет?

Укпагандай болуп атам

Үн чыгарбай бара жатам

Тезирээк! Тезирээк!

Неге мага асылгандан кайра өзүм уяламын?
Неге?

Неге булар эркин жүрөт, а мен болсо
абайлаймын?

Неге?

Алтыга чыкканда апам айткан

Кызым, кыз баласың, абайлагын

Он алтыга чыкканда апам кайталаган

Кызым, кыз баласың, абайлагын

Апам айткан Эч качан жалгыз кала көрбө,
кызым

Апам айткан Кеч калып жолдо жүрө көрбө,
кызым

Апам айткан Ар-кандай адамдар бар,
абайлагын, кыз баласың, абайлагын

(Жалгыз эч чыкпайт элеңго сен!)

(Кеч кирбестен тез үйүңө кел!)

Апам айткан Эч качан жалгыз кала көрбө,
кызым

Апам айткан Кеч калып жолдо жүрө көрбө,
кызым

 

Апам айткан Ар-кандай адамдар бар,
абайлагын, кыз баласың, абайлагын

I am going alone

My hair is unkempt

Right-left, right-left

The melody in my ear, first

Throw a stone in my path

Play, play, play, play

Some boys hanged me

                                                                                  
Three

You can’t do that

Deliberately so excited

Shut up, shut up

When I was six, my mother told me

Be careful, my daughter

When I was sixteen, my mother repeated it

Be careful, my daughter

Be careful

Be careful

Be careful

Maybe good guys

Maybe have dropped something

Who knows? Who knows?

My father is deaf

I am walking silently

Faster! Faster!

Why am I ashamed to be hanged?                    Why?

Why do they move freely, but I am careful?

Why?

When I was six, my mother told me

Be careful, my daughter

 

When I was sixteen, my mother repeated it

Be careful, my daughter

My mother told me to never be alone, my daughter

My mother told me don’t be late,                          my daughter

There are all kinds of people my mom said, be careful girl, be careful

(You would never go out alone!)

(Come home before it’s too late!)

My mother told me to never be alone, my daughter

My mother told me don’t be late,                          my daughter

 

There are all kinds of people my mom said, be careful, girl, be careful

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