The 58-year-old woman from the northern city of Khujand, Muharram Kholmatova, has been jailed for involving local young women in prostitution.

The Khujand city court sentenced Muharram Kholmatova to five years in prison on February 1.  The sentenced followed her conviction on charges of recruitment for prostitution (Article 132 (3) of Tajikistan’s Penal Code).

Kholmatova will serve her term in a general regime penal colony. 

Judge Akmaljon Savriddinov, who presided over the trial, says Kholmatova was trafficking local young women to the Russian Federation.

“Kholmatova was detained on July 18, 2017 when she was trying to traffic two young woman from Khujand to the Russian city of Surgut,” the judge said.   

Meanwhile, the 2017 Trafficking in Persons Report released  by the U.S. Department of State’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, in particular, notes that  the Government of Tajikistan does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so.  The government reportedly demonstrated significant efforts during the reporting period by drafting and approving a national action plan for 2016-2018, approving a national referral mechanism, and monitoring for forced labor of children in the annual cotton harvest.  The Inter-Ministerial Commission to Combat Trafficking in Persons met quarterly to coordinate governmental anti-trafficking efforts and established a working group to monitor implementation of the victim protection law.  However, the government did not meet the minimum standards in several key areas.  Slow progress in the implementation of its victim protection law left officials without victim identification procedures, and resulted in inadequate victim protection services.  Endemic corruption contributed to the transport of victims across borders, yet the government did not report any investigations, prosecutions, or convictions of government officials complicit in human trafficking offenses.

The government maintained its anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts, according to the report.  Article 130.1 of the 2003 criminal code, amended in 2004 and 2008, prohibits all forms of trafficking, including the use of force, fraud or coercion for the purpose of sexual exploitation and forced labor.  The article prescribes penalties of five to 15 years imprisonment, which are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with penalties prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape.

Article 132 criminalizes recruitment for sexual or other exploitation through fraud—but not through coercion—and carries a maximum penalty of five years imprisonment.  Article 167 prohibits the buying and selling of children, prescribing five to 15 years imprisonment and several other criminal code provisions include trafficking crimes, such as article 130.2, which criminalizes the use of slave labor, and article 241.2, which criminalizes the use of minors in the production of pornography.