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Azerbaijani woman attempts suicide after receiving abuse over feminist placard

INVESTIGATIONS are under way into today’s suicide attempt by a woman who was hounded after displaying a feminist slogan at an International Women’s Day demonstration in Azerbaijan.

Aysel Alakbarzadeh reported being bullied and verbally abused after she held a placard reading: “My vagina is mine, I will give it to anyone I want,” during Sunday’s march in the capital Baku.

She was taken into hospital after jumping out of a window hours after posting on Facebook that she was going to commit suicide in response to a string of messages branding her “a slut.”

“I just hugged my lover for the last time and drank my last drink,” she posted. “In my suicide I will be free … long live feminism.”

Pro-government media outlets widely shared the photograph of Ms Alakbarzadeh holding the placard, branding feminists immoral for fighting for sexual liberation.

A spokeswoman for a feminist group told the Star that it believed the government was targeting women as they are seen as a serious political force and a threat to the regime.

Women are underrepresented in political life. None of the country’s 55 registered political parties is led by a woman and they made up just 21 per cent of the candidates in last month’s general election.

Election observer mission head Peter Tejler said that there “was no meaningful discussion and no meaningful choice for voters” because the media is tightly controlled.

Sunday’s rally was organised to celebrate International Women’s Day and to protest at violence against women in Azerbaijan.

The rally was not authorised by the authorities, which warned that any activities would be considered illegal. 

Thousands of protesters gathered at the Statue of a Liberated Woman in Baku city centre before beginning a march, but the demonstration was broken up by police, who made a number of arrests.

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