As has been amply demonstrated by international research findings, youth sexuality education (SexEd) could help resolve issues like teen pregnancy, early marriage, sexual and domestic violence, the spread of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections, and many others. Yet, SexEd is still a sensitive topic in many if not most countries, and youth face obstacles in accessing verified, scientific information about puberty, contraception, and sex. In conservative societies, sexual literacy is often seen as shameful and in conflict with “traditional” or “family values,” and Kazakhstan is no exception. This chapter focuses not on lack of access to external sources of quality information, but on self-imposed barriers that prevent youth, especially Kazakh-speaking young people, from seeking such information. One of the key factors behind these self-imposed barriers is Kazakhstan’s culture of uyat, which in simple terms can be described as both feeling ashamed and being shamed by others.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Tax calculation will be finalised at checkout
Purchases are for personal use onlyLearn about institutional subscriptions
Alimbekova, G., & Shabdenova, A. (2018). Sotsiologicheskoye issledovaniye po izucheniyu sostoyaniya reproduktivnogo zdoroviya podrostkov i molodyh lyudei 15–19 let, ih seksual’nogo povedeniya i dostupa k uslugam i informatsiyi v oblasti ohrany reproduktivnogo zdoroviya. Paper presented at the preliminary results press-conference, December 4, 2018.
Arystanbek, A. (2020). Trapped between east and west: A study of hegemonic femininity in Kazakhstan’s online and state discourses. MA Dissertation, Central European University.
Bigozhin, U. (2019). “We love our country in our own way”: Youth, gender, and nationalism. In M. Laruelle (Ed.), The Nazarbayev Generation: Youth in Kazakhstan (pp. 115–132). Lexington Books.
Chin, H. B., Sipe, T. A., Elder, R., Mercer, S. L., Chattopadhyay, S. K., Jacob, V., … & Santelli, J. (2012). The effectiveness of group-based comprehensive risk-reduction and abstinence education interventions to prevent or reduce the risk of adolescent pregnancy, human immunodeficiency virus, and sexually transmitted infections. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 42(3), 272–294.
Hadley, A. (2019). Teenage pregnancy and young parents: A short briefing. Articles, briefings and presentations, University of Bedfordshire. https://www.beds.ac.uk/media/265957/teenage-pregnancy-short-briefing-april-2019.pdf. Accessed on December 10, 2019.
Ismukhanova, G., Sharipova, D., Turekhanova, B., Rakisheva, B., Nasimova, G., Yermakhanova, S., … & Gurevich, L. (2020). Tsennosti kazakhstanskogo obschestva v sotsiologicheskom izmereniyi (Values of Kazakhstan Society in the Sociological Dimension), DELUXE Printery.
Kabatova, K. (2020). V poiskah zdravogo smysla. Uyatemes.kz, February 1, 2020. https://uyatemes.kz/v-poiskah-zdravogo-smysla. Accessed September 15, 2021.
Kabatova, K., & Marinin, S. (2018). Polovoye prosvescheniye v sisteme shkol’nogo obrazovaniya Respubliki Kazakhstan: Uchit’ nel’zya, molchat’s? Paper presented at the PaperLab Discussion Club, April 27, 2018.
Kudaibergenova, D. T. (2018). Project Kelin: Marriage, women, and re-traditionalization in post-soviet Kazakhstan. In M. Najafizadeh & L. L. Lindsey (Ed.), Women of Asia. Globalization, development, and gender equity. Routledge, pp. 379–390.
Kudaibergenova, D. T. (2019). The body global and the body traditional: A digital ethnography of Instagram and nationalism in Kazakhstan and Russia. Central Asian Survey, 38(3), 363–380.
Mukhitkyzy, A. (2021). “Mnogodetnye materi v Nur Otane”: Trebuyem oplatit’ posobiye po 42500 kazhdomu rebionku.” Radio Azattyq, February 22, 2021. https://rus.azattyq.org/a/31115495.html. Accessed on May 10, 2021.
Radio Azattyq. (2020). “Izgnaniye Dzhinnov I operatsiya na mozg: istoriya geya iz Uralska.” Radio Azattyq, February 29, 2020. https://rus.azattyq.org/a/kazakhstan-uralsk-human-story-gay/30448975.html. Accessed on September 08, 2021.
Sputnik.kz. (2019). “Prezervativy dlya shkolnikov: mnogodetnyi otets deputat vozmutilsya predlozheniyem.” Sputnik Kazakhstan, February 18. https://ru.sputnik.kz/20190218/prezervativy-shkolniki-mazhilis-deputat-9336529.html. Accessed on May 10, 2021.
Suvorova, K. (2019). “MEN SEN EMES” (Face the Music), YouTube, Tihiy Svet, January 2021. www.youtube.com/watch?v=UreqjWn5yU0. Accessed on September 15, 2021.
“The average number of hours spent on unpaid domestic work, by sex,” Agency for Strategic planning and reforms of the Republic of Kazakhstan Bureau of National statistics. (n.d.). https://gender.stat.gov.kz/page/frontend/detail?id=112&slug=-90&cat_id=2&lang=en. Accessed on September 15, 2021.
Zhussipbek, G., & Nagayeva, Zh. (2019). “Cognitive unconscious”, “Modern conservatism”, and “Core liberal values” in the context of youth’s national identity”: Youth, gender, and nationalism. In M. Laruelle (Ed.), The Nazarbayev Generation: Youth in Kazakhstan (pp. 133–151). Lexington Books.
Editors and Affiliations
© 2022 The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd.
About this chapter
Cite this chapter
Kabatova, K. (2022). Purity vs. Safety: How Uyat Undermines Youth’s Sexual Literacy in Kazakhstan. In: Thibault, H., Caron, JF. (eds) Uyat and the Culture of Shame in Central Asia. The Steppe and Beyond: Studies on Central Asia. Palgrave Macmillan, Singapore. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-19-4328-7_3
Publisher Name: Palgrave Macmillan, Singapore
Print ISBN: 978-981-19-4327-0
Online ISBN: 978-981-19-4328-7