A woman in the Russian region of Dagestan is suing her ex-husband after he allegedly beat her for six years and then ran away with her children. She hasn’t seen them since a court ruled she lives an “immoral” life due to tattoos.
Last summer, a court in Makhachkala, the capital of the majority-Muslim Russian republic, decided Nina Tseretilova shouldn’t have custody of her children because of her lifestyle, which “does not meet the norms.” The 33-year-old has piercings, tattoos, and dyed hair, and refuses to wear a hijab. The judge ruled in favor of her ex-husband, Magomed, who owes her 800,000 rubles ($11,000) in alimony.
The children had lived with their mother ever since their divorce, and the father played almost no role in their lives. However, when she demanded alimony payments from him through the courts, it was ruled that she was not fit to take care of them.
The judge’s decision was made on the basis of Tseretilova not following “the rules of behavior of a mother with many children,” and specifically that she has “tattoos with inscriptions depicted on her body.”
“I haven’t seen my children for three months. I don’t know their residential address or who they are with,” she told the newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda. “They are not at his place of residence nor at school.”
Tseretilova is half-Russian and half-Avar – an ethnic group from the North Caucasus. In the West, the most famous Avar is Khabib Nurmagomedov, a former world champion mixed martial artist. She was born near Tver, a city near Moscow, where she lived until she was six. Two years later, her father’s relatives allegedly performed female circumcision on her in an Avar village. She entered an arranged marriage when she turned 14. According to the woman, she was regularly beaten by her husband and filed for divorce in 2012.
In early 2020, when she decided to sue for alimony, her ex-husband, who has a new family in Moscow, took their three children, she says. Five days later, they were returned after law enforcement intervened. Since then, he allegedly repeatedly took them out of school, and threatened to bring them to the capital.
Tseretilova believes his taking the children was a ploy to avoid paying alimony, and claims he does not work. When her case finally came before the court, she was shocked that the judge found against her and that she would be refused custody.
In December last year, her ex-husband once again took the children away to an unknown location. After she filed a claim to the police, they told her they could do nothing, as the court had ordered that they remain with their father.
He told a very different story. According to him, the children asked him to take them away. Tseretilova regularly went to nightclubs, staying out until the next morning, and wasn’t a responsible mother, he claimed. “I promised the children a long time ago that I would take them to my place,” he said.
Tseretilova has appealed, and the next hearing is scheduled to be heard imminently.
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