Uzbek authorities do not need “extra” children

The Tulyaganov family has nine children ©
Poverty, crammed quarters, and hunger – these are the things children can expect from growing up in a large family. Families where children are born with “Allah’s will” cannot expect much assistance from the government.

In 1991, there were 20.71 million people in Uzbekistan, today there are 30.5 million, making it the most overpopulated country in Central Asia. In 2013, 700,000 children were born in the country.

The authorities are trying to control the birthrate: for instance, a family with two children has been promoted as an unofficial example of the “right” lifestyle.

Having many children is not desirable. Women who give birth to more than five children are not exactly hailed as heroines and their families cannot expect too much assistance from the state.

The Tulyaganov family has nine children and the parents believe that no one has the right to dictate whether to give birth or not. However, they would like to get some help from the government.

An correspondent visited them at home to see what their lives are like.

We have not had meat for half a year

That evening the family ate their dinner on “credit.” They were borrowing potatoes, onions, and oil from a neighbor. There was barely enough for everybody. The most frequent dish they eat is pasta soup, but they had run out of pasta.

The last time they ate meat was for a holiday last fall.

“Yesterday we also did not have any food,” complains Zilola, “We ate bread and drank tea. Wherever we turn for help everybody has the same question - Why do you have so many children?”

One room for eleven people
Zilola Tulyaganova with her children

39-years old Zilola has given birth to ten children. She is against abortion and believes family planning is best left to Allah.

Her eldest daughter is 18 and the youngest is four. Her last child died at childbirth and she remembers it with tears in her eyes.

The family of eleven shares one room, they don’t have a sauna or a shower. There is a bed and a TV in the room. Here they sleep, eat, and the children do their homework.

Aslia, one of the Tulyaganov daughters, is in sixth grade. She is dreaming of her own room so that she can invite her friends.

“When I grow up I will become the mayor of a town and will help families like ours,” says Aslia.

Government subsidies do not prevent poverty

The local administrators in Tashkent offered Zilola and her family a two-room flat share with other families. However, it was came without a kitchen and bathroom. So she preferred to stay in their house, where they have a toilet and a gas stove. Zilola’s husband Takhir is a cobbler and makes about 20,000 soms a day (8 USD).

The Tulyaganov family is going to sleep
“He has just gotten another job as a guard at a local hospital. So now we will start receiving child support for our young children,” says Zilola happily.

Each child is qualified to receive a subsidy of 15 USD per month if the family’s income is below poverty level (calculated monthly at about 43-45 USD per family member). And that is only if at least one parent works in the public sector.

With the new job the Tulyaganov family is hoping to at least receive this subsidy. Hopefully, it will be sufficient to allow for pasta soup for everybody.