Gender activist Leyla Hasanova notes that in Azerbaijan, a woman is viewed as “sentenced” to a restricted existence after a divorce.
“A woman with a child who is divorced should not marry a second time. She should continue her life as a mother, and have nothing but her child's world; her personal life, her personal relationships, her intimate life, and so on, cannot exist. This also leads to the increasing pressure on women by the moral roles imposed on women,” she says.
Sociologist Sanubar Heydarova adds that even when they decide to divorce, women in Azerbaijan struggle to take control of their lives. For instance, they normally return to their family house and depend on their father or brothers to support them and their children, she says.
“Women cannot live their lives independently. If a woman is illiterate, she will face deliberate obstacles and pressures from her family. Also, demanding child support is a very difficult process for women in Azerbaijan,” she says, noting that the husband often refuses to pay child support.
Securing the money can mean a long, drawn out legal battle that requires expensive lawyers – a cost many families are not able or willing to pay. “That's why a divorced woman doesn't know what to do in this difficult situation. Also, women are not seriously assisted by the government in the alimony process. In addition, the family itself deliberately creates conflicts, which can lead to problems with getting alimony.”
Nurana's act of protest has cost her dearly. While she has saved her daughters, she has been forced to live in abject poverty because her own family has refused to support her.