Have you ever thought of marriage? Isn’t it normal to get married by mutual consent? However, there was some unbelievable form of marriage in history which still exists today. This fact is literally pitiful and is an unforgivable action. My friend suggested the topic of bride kidnappings in Kyrgyzstan as the topic of a group presentation and through that research, I became interested in this topic. In this essay, I will discuss bride kidnappings in Kyrgyzstan through its current situation, the reason why it is rampant and the recent trend.
In Kyrgyzstan, bride kidnapping is called ‘Ala kachuu’ and it is accepted as a custom. In a typical case, the bride non-verbally consents to marriage and then she would be kidnapped on an unplanned date in the street. In the case of non-consensual bride kidnappings, a woman is physically kidnapped by a man she hardly knows or by a man she is clearly not interested in. After being kidnapped, young women tend to stay in these marriages to avoid the shame of returning home. Once a woman enters a man’s house, it is thought that her purity is gone making it hopeless for woman to escape from the house. This is the reason for why 80% of kidnapped women accept marriage in the end. It is also estimated that 35% to 45% of married women had been kidnapped without approval according to a thesis from professor Kleinbach. Though non-consensual kidnaping became illegal since 1994, the police and the court has yet to take an action to this issue.
One of the reasons this issue is still under argument is because most of the citizens believe bride kidnappings as its custom. According to professor Kleinbach, marriage arranged by parents was the main way to get married in the old days. There were some forms of bride kidnappings at that time as well, but it was mostly an elopement with consensual. The generation when violent bride kidnapping increased was after Kyrgyzstan becoming the republic of the Soviet Union. Nomadic lives changed into settlement lives and the social system changed dramatically. Plus due to motorisation, automobiles became popular and a mean of pushing women into cars by some groups and kidnapping them away became widespread. From those facts, it is possible that the bride kidnappings with their agreement distorted to the current way and more and more people started to think illegal kidnappings as a custom. Both men and women side conceived kidnappings as its tradition so that women would be prevailed and accept marriage in the end.
Recently, there are some men who believe that bride kidnapping without consensus is not a good doing, but cannot refuse since their parents and community member persuade them to conduct it.
This makes it difficult to solve this problem without changing awareness of not only their individual, but also the community. According to Noriko Hayashi, a photojournalist who is studying about bride kidnappings in Kyrgyzstan, there are some movements in young generation who is trying to think this issue over. There is a magazine published by young people in Kyrgyzstan where the editors are around late teens to twenties and the readers are also being young. Kidnapped women would be deprived from their future and can suffer from domestic violence, which can lead to committing suicide. The future of men would at risk as well if accused of an illegal kidnapping, which makes this problem have impact on both of men and women.
We should take some action to solve this issue. Firstly, it is necessary to establish the safety net for women who are forcibly involved in these kidnappings. Also, improvement of the economic conditions in Kazakh and to reduce the insecure feelings about their own economic conditions among Kazakh men is important. Bride kidnappings should be argued publicly among people whether this issue should be seen as a crime or not. The government has the responsibility to open and start this debate. Consensual or non-consensual, we should never allow the fact that women are suffering but is not able to reject it as their destiny. We should strongly protest it as a violation of human rights until the end of solving this problem.
NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC 日本版
Russell Kleinbach and Gazbubu Babaiarova, “Reducing non-consensual bride kidnapping in Kyrgyzstan” Eurasian Journal of Social Sciences, 1(1), 2013, 50-60