Every week, hundreds of women trickle in and out of Dilyarom Hamrakulova’s home in Aravan, a town in southern Kyrgyzstan on the border with Uzbekistan. Groups sit on the floor around a sparse room to study the Koran and talk about their lives, hopes and problems.

It was all smiles and laughter during this week’s visit to Uzbekistan by Kyrgyzstan’s newly elected president,...
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