In a flurry of banning, Tajikistan’s lower house of parliament on January 13 voted to make it illegal to give babies non-Tajik names or to seal nuptials without a medical certificate.
Deputies appeared particular irked by names such as Sang (Stone), Safol (Ceramic), Zog (Crow) and Gurg (Wolf).
Coming to the aid of new parents, the language and terminology committee at the Academy of Sciences is drawing up a list of 4,000 suitable names. Representatives of the titular nation — AKA ethnic Tajiks — will not be permitted to stray from the list.
Ethnic minorities will get a free pass and be allowed to name their children according to their own cultural traditions. (It is not immediately obvious which culture would allow for the name Ceramic).
It remains to be seen if names chosen out of slavish devotion to the authorities will fall under the ban. Tajikistan saw a craze a few years back for naming children in relation to the Rogun hydropower project. One baby was called Rogunshoh (King Rogun), while others were called Sahmiya (Share), after the shares in Rogun that countless Tajiks were pressured into buying as the government sought to scrabble together funding for the project.
The stricter rules on marriage have been introduced partly as a way of reducing the incidence of disabilities among children, which officials argue are the result of intensive inbreeding. Consequently, marriage among cousins and cousins-once-removed will be forbidden.
According to the Health Ministry, there are 30,000 children with congenital disabilities in Tajikistan.
Even non-relatives will be required to undergo a battery of tests for HIV/AIDS, hepatitis and other sexually transmitted diseases. There had been speculation for a long time that there were plans to introduce tests for virginity, but that has not come to pass.
Medical examinations will be conducted at the state’s expensive, health officials say.
In a further bid to stem the spread of disease, labor migrants returning from abroad are also to be tested.