Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Bride Kidnapping - Kyrgyzstan

Bride kidnapping in Kyrgyzstan

Bride Kidnapping is the term given to marriage that results from kidnapping women. This is a practice in which a man abducts the woman he wishes to marry, so the woman is enslaved by her abductor, raped and taken as his wife. Bride kidnapping has been practiced around the world and throughout prehistory and history, and it continues to occur in countries in Central Asia, Kyrgyzstan, Kazahstan, Uzbekistan, India, Pakistan, Ethiopia and other parts of Africa, among people as diverse as the Hmong in Southest Asia, the Tzeltal in Mexico, the Romani in Europe, and the tribes in amazon jungle in South America.
In most nations, bride kidnapping is considered a sex crime rather than a valid form of marriage.

In Kyrgyzstan, half of the Kyrgyz ethnic women are married after being kidnapped and raped by the men who becomes their husband, even though this practice is illegal since 1994.

Countries where marriages are arranged and forced: (see the map below)

[Black] Ordinary forced marriage (which may involve kidnapping); [Carmine] Predominant child marriage; [Red] Predominant arranged marriage (not inbreeding); [Ocher] Arranged marriage (mainly between cousins); [Yellow] About 20% of marriages are consaguineous.

Places that practice these acts: Kyrgyzstan, Armenia, India, Ethiopia, Kzakhstan, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Tzeltal in Mexico, Georgia, Rwanda, Egypt, Kenya, South Africa, Chechnya, Dagestan, Ingushetia, Azerbaijan, Indonesia, China, Japan, Ireland, England, Czech Republic, Netherlands, Bulgaria, Tajikistan, Slovakia and Malta. Most occur in poor regions.

How does it happen?

Kyrgyzstan kidnapped woman being prepared for the forced wedding
A group of men meet, looking for women with who they want to marry, and as soon as they spot one, the woman is literally dragged off the street, into a car and she is taken directly to the man's house. There, his family usually already started making preparations for the wedding. Then, she's taken to a room, where she's kept until the relatives of the man, usually older women, try to convince her to wear a married woman's scarf as a sign of acceptance to get married, even if the woman resists persuasion and mantains her desire to return home. However, when a woman enters her kidnapper's house, she is already considered a woman without purity, making the situation shameful for her and her family, which normally makes her give up on returning her own home, so they stay with the kidnapper. In addition, they can be seen as stubborn and belligerent if they resist marriage, and are considered "less attractive" because of it. After the kidnapping, these women are no longer seen as virgin, so sometimes the victim is raped by the fiancé in order to lose their virginity.

In Kyrgyzstan, about 84% of abducted women end up agreeing to the nuptials. In the country, forced marriages represent 57% of the total. It is not surprising that even though almost 90% of abducted women end up marrying their kidnapper, 60% of those marriages end up leading to divorce. Some divorced women admitted that after returning to their parents' house, they no longer had a voice in family matters and reduced their status. Some are even beaten and threatened by the parents themselves.

Burulai Turdaaly Kyzy mural in Bishkek
Although Kyrgyzstan banned kidnapping of brides in 2013 and child marriage in 2016, about 12,000 young people are kidnapped for marriage each year, according to the Kyrgyzstan Women's Support Center. In the first half of 2019 alone, Kyrgyzstan had 118 cases of bride abduction. There are 94 cases of kidnapping of girls with the aim of marrying, 12 for coercion into marriage. Most of these kidnappings ended up in court.

Burulai Turdaaly Kyzy, a Kyrgyzstan woman, was brutally stabbed to death by a man who had abducted her hours earlier. The man,Mars Bodoshev, was convicted of the kidnapping of the bride and sentenced to 20 years in a high security penal colony with confiscation of property for murder and kidnapping in order to force her to marry. In late 2018, a mural portrait of Burulai appeared in Bishkek, the city where she was abducted, at the medical university where she was studying.

Also, women who are kidnapped and forced into marriage are more likely to commit suicide, even in cases where they manage to escape and return home, because of the social/familiar pressure and psychological issues developed by trauma. 
Kasymbay Urus, 19 years old, was kidnapped by a 34 year-old man and although she was taken home two days later by her family, she hanged herself in her backyard the next day. She had a boyfriend, whom she wanted to marry.

It's important to understand that bride kidnapping is a situation in which the Human Rights of these women are completely violated and, in addition to the physical violence that many suffer during forced marriages, the psychological trauma caused by this practice and the consequences of the vision society has on these women is enormous.

If you want to understand better what's the reality of bride kidnapping, check this video:

Article written by:
Adriana Santos


Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Racism: a world issue

George Floyd, 2016
On May 25, in the United States of America, Minneapolis police officers arrested George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, after a convenience store employee called 911 and told the police that Floyd bought cigarettes with a counterfeit $20 bill. During the arrest, Derek Chauvin, one of the police officers that were sent to the scene, knelt on his neck and back for eight minutes and 46 seconds. Seeing the excessive use of police force, since George Floyd was collaborating with the detention and posed no threat, several people joined in asking the police to get off of him, mainly because Floyd complained several times about being hurt and constantly said "I can't breathe". As time went by, videos made by witnesses display Floyd showing no signs of life, and neither Chauvin moved away or his colleagues tried to stop him; officer Derek Chauvin only removed his knee from George's neck when the paramedics arrived at the scene and told him to, although it was too late - George Floyd died from asphyxiation. 

The official autopsy found Floyd died of cardiopulmonary arrest caused by subdual and restraint, but a second autopsy, commissioned by Floyd's family found that the evidence is consistent with mechanical asphyxia as the cause of death, with neck compression restricting blood flow to the brain, and back compression restricting breathing. Chauvin and the three other officers were fired from their jobs. Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman initially charged Derek Chauvin with third-degree murder and manslaughter, but Minnesota's attorney general added an upgraded charge of second-degree murder against him, and charged the other three in the death of George Floyd, with aiding and abetting second-degree murder. 

(Left to right): Derek Chauvin, J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and
 Tou Thao face charges in the death of George Floyd

As the videos of Floyd's death became viral, protests took place in more than 75 U.S cities and around the world against police brutality, police racism and lack of police accountability. Petitions and movements were created, like the "Black Lives Matter" movement, to change the reality of police brutality towards the black community in the USA. 

State civil rights action

The Minnesota Department of Human Rights opened an investigation into the practices of the Minneapolis Police Department, and on June 5, the Minneapolis City Council authorized the mayor to enter into a restraining order with the State of Minnesota banning chokeholds and neck restraints, requiring police officers to intervene against the use of excessive force by other officers, and requiring authorization from the police chief or other designate before use crowd control weapons such as chemical agents and rubber bullets. On June 8, 2020, the reforms to the Minneapolis Police Department were approved by the Hennepin County Court.

Memorials and protests

Parisians held signs demanding justice and paid homage to
 Adama Traore, a black Frenchman who died in similar circumstances
The area around the location at which Floyd was killed became a memorial throughout May 26, with many placards paying tribute to him and referencing the Black Lives Matter movement. As the day continued, more people showed up to pay tribute and the crowd, estimated to be in the hundreds of people, then marched to the 3rd Precinct of the Minneapolis Police. Participants used posters and slogans with phrases such as "Justice for George", "I can't breathe", and "Black Lives Matter". As protests spread all across the United States of America, the world hasn't been able to remain quiet in the face of such a huge, yet common, problem as police violence, especially towards the black community in the United Stated. Thousands of people took the streets of Barcelona, Madrid, Rome, London, Lisbon in support of the movement, adding to tens of thousands who rallied in France, Germany, the United Kingdom and other European countries, as the strained situation in the U.S. has brought the issue of racism and discrimination into focus globally.

Protesters gather around Winston Churchill statue
 in Parliament Square during the Black Lives Matter protest rally in London

British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson issued a statement urging Black Lives Matter protesters in the U.K. to "work peacefully, lawfully" following days of unrest that saw the statue of wartime leader Winston Churchill twice defaced.

A top European Union agency told the European Union Observer on Monday, June 8, "highlight that discrimination and violence against black people is not only a problem of one country - it is a commonplace". 

Why is it so important to fight against racism?

Racism exists since the colonial era, when white people were given legally or socially sanctioned privileges and rights while these same rights were denied to other races and minorities. In that time, white people enjoyed exclusive privileges in matters of education, immigration, voting rights, citizenship, land acquisition, and criminal procedure throughout history. It causes harm to those who are suffering from it, not only hurting individuals, but also communities and our society at large.

Levels of racism
Studies show that experiencing racism has deep effects on people's health and welfare, as it can cause feelings of sadness, anger, anxiety and depression. Furthermore, it can affect people's freedom and dignity, as those who endure racism can be made to feel they have less freedom, or are second-class citizens, not being able to have access to the same kind of opportunities as white people, and it is shown they are more likely to suffer from discrimination and abuse by authority forces, because of systemic racism. This type of racism persists in our schools, offices, court system, police departments, and elsewhere, as a result of white people occupying most positions of decision-making power, while people of color have a difficult time getting a fair shake, let alone getting ahead. 

Since the election of President of the United States, Donald Trump, hate crimes have been on the rise, and white supremacists have been emboldened, anti-immigrants rhetoric has intensified,as a result of the President's beliefs and values. Nevertheless, racism isn't just a Black people's problem, it's everyone's problem, because it erodes the fabric of society. Leaders at every level must use their power, platforms, and resources to help employees and communities overcome these challenges and build an inclusive world.

Article written by:
Adriana Santos
Millena Ferraz