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Bride Kidnapping

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.

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?

The following examples and statistics are mostly about rural Kyrgyzstan, where the practice is more frequent and where 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.

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 women and girls 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



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