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Tajikistan's First Online Sex Shop Tests Tastes, Traditions

  • RFE/RL's Tajik Service

A screengrab from the Facebook page of Tajikistan's first online sex shop.

A screengrab from the Facebook page of Tajikistan's first online sex shop.

Tajikistan's first online sex shop has launched, pledging discretion and doorstep delivery of anything from inflatable dolls to vibrators within hours and infuriating religious leaders in the conservative, mostly Muslim state in the process.

An administrator at sex_shop_tj told RFE/RL's Tajik Service via the Viber message service that the company would deliver items as quickly as 30 minutes but within five hours of receiving an order.

The shop also guarantees complete anonymity of its customers, the administrator added.

Since credit cards and online payments are uncommon in Tajikistan, payments are made upon the delivery of the products.

The shop, whose presence on social media includes Instagram and a Twitter account with a modest following, doesn't disclose its exact location.

But it says it delivers to customers in the capital, Dushanbe, and the country's second city of Khujand.

A blow-up doll sells for around $70, or about half of the average Tajik monthly salary.

Reactions have been mixed on social media and in interviews on Dushanbe's streets, with some expressing fear that it might erode moral values and others stressing that freedom of choice was important.

"We need to prevent our youth from such diseases. This is not something you would want to teach your children in schools," "Myhammad" commented on the RFE/RL Tajik Service's website.

"These people must be sick, they should see a doctor," "Azizov Azizov" wrote on Odnoklassniki.ru

Behruz, a Dushanbe resident who didn't give his full name, said that "in the 21st century and the age of the Internet, you cannot and should not control people's choices and desires."

Others took the whole thing more lightheartedly: "Chinese-made rubber brides -- now I've seen everything," an anonymous reader commented on toptj.com.

However, it's no laughing matter for religious leaders, who believe the sex shop and its erotic toys pose a serious threat to traditional marriage, family values, and young people's moral well-being.

Mavlavi Abdurahim Karimov, a professor at Tajikistan's Islamic University, urged Tajiks to stick to real men and women, saying that engaging in sexual acts with dolls amounts to "fornication."

Qobiljon Boev, a Dushanbe-based cleric, said using sex toys is incompatible with Islamic values.

Mullahs enjoy respect and influence in Tajik society, which has turned increasingly to religion in recent years despite efforts by the staunchly secular government to control people's practice of Islam.

Ultimately, however, sales are more likely to determine whether the sex shop has a place in Tajik society.

For the time being, the administrator said, the shop has enough customers for a start-up business.

Written by Farangis Najibullah based on reporting by RFE/RL's Tajik Service correspondent Ganjina Gangova
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