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Uzbek State TV Warning: Tattoos Cause Moral Damage

"People in their right minds fear them and describe them as immoral people," a Tashkent deputy imam tells the broadcaster.
Tattooing is evil and creates "aggression and hostility in the mind of a human being," a voice-over says. As part of mass culture, tattoos are making their way throughout the country under the pretense of modernity was the general conclusion.

This isn't a scene from an eerie dystopian film set in the future but rather part of a program broadcast on Uzbek state television's First Channel on February 20.

Over video footage of various individuals getting tattooed, the voice-over continues telling the viewer that "these" people wouldn't have tattooed their bodies had they been aware of the negative consequences of this "evil."

Besides the "moral damage" tattoos do, a doctor included in the program also tells viewers that tattoos have the potential to cause skin diseases, dermatitis, eczema, and contribute to the spread of AIDS.

While a risk of HIV transmission through the needles used in tattooing does exist if the instruments are contaminated and then not sterilized, such sweeping statements concerning the spread of the HIV virus are a result of a more widespread practice of stigmatization.

Central Asia has a fast-growing HIV epidemic and, while Western NGOs are not allowed to operate in Uzbekistan, regional experts suggest that the government has in the past attempted to disguise, and failed to diagnose those infected with the virus.

During the program, a deputy imam of Tashkent, Jasurbek Raupov, also comments on the morality of those sporting tattoos. "People in their right minds fear them and describe them as immoral people," he tells the broadcaster.

This is certainly not the first time Uzbek television has broadcast a program or film bordering on the absurd.

Late last year "River Song," a feature film about the dangerous and addictive world of video games, depicted a young boy's descent into a world devoid of morals.

-- Deana Kjuka

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