It’s the stuff of science fiction: machines that make decisions about who and when to kill. Referred to as “autonomous weapons”, they’re already in use to some degree. But as more sophisticated systems are being developed we wanted to an expert in the field about whether such systems comply with international humanitarian law and what it means for humanity to give machines the power over human life and death.
Bazargul never saw herself as a seamstress. “When I was young, I couldn’t even sew my own socks,” she says with a laugh.
Nor had Bazargul ever worked outside of her house, where she takes care of her six children. “They all go to school and it is very difficult to provide for them.”
Now, she proudly sits next to a sewing machine that she recently bought with money she earned at a sewing shop, and she dreams of starting her own sewing business with some of her children.
It’s a dramatic shift for Bazargul and her family, which like many families here in Kyrgyzstan’s capital of Bishkek, has been going through tough times for many years. When Covid-19 came to Kyrgyzstan last year, the pressure on Bazargul and her family to make ends meet increased dramatically.
“The main question for us was what to eat. I have a brother, and at times he had to bring us food.”
The additional income that she earns now as a seamstress at a sewing shop close to her home has provided an important boost to her husband’s salary at a construction site. “He has a very hard job.”
It all started one day after she got an auspicious visit from a friend. “She saw that I was sitting at home and not working,” Bazargul recalls with a laugh. “Then I found out that she enrolled me in a free seamstress course, without asking me.”
Then, the director of the sewing school called and invited Bazargul over to the school, which was created by the Red Crescent Society of Kyrgyzstan (RCSK) to help women in high vulnerability like single mothers, internal migrants and unemployed persons, and mothers with many children.