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World News

Uzbeks rally behind woman who beat up harassers

ALMATY (Reuters) - An Uzbek woman who beat up two men after they insulted her has become a media hero in the Central Asian nation as a number of public figures, including President Shavkat Mirziyoyev’s daughter, condemned the authorities’ move to prosecute her.

Local websites showed a video of Gulsanam Alijonova, 23, who has trained in boxing, karate and taekwondo, in which she chased and beat two men aged 30 and 33.

The video, shot in June, was shared and discussed on social media, but on Sept. 8 the Interior Ministry said it had identified the woman and launched a criminal case against her for hooliganism.

The following day, local news website Daryo ran an interview with Alijonova who said the conflict started when one of the two men ridiculed her T-shirt and shorts outfit and went on to insult her when she rebuked him.

Alijonova said the man grabbed her T-shirt when she confronted him, prompting her to employ her fighting skills, and his companion tried to intervene.

A number of bloggers have spoken out in support of Alijonova, with some saying she should be rewarded for standing up to harassers rather than prosecuted.

They were joined on Friday by Saida Mirziyoyeva, the influential elder daughter of the president who worked in his government until last January when she launched a non-governmental organisation to promote media freedom.

“It pains me to see that the justice machine immediately becomes quick and powerful and works at its full force against women and journalists,” she wrote on Facebook. “But it often falters against men and public servants”.

Reporting by Olzhas Auyezov; Editing by Janet Lawrence

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