Call to end bride kidnapping in Kyrgyzstan
Action Number: 39.1
Date: 2011 Nov 7*All names of victims have been changed in order to protect their identities
In 2009, on her way home from university, Vulkan was abducted by a man who wanted her for his wife and imprisoned in his house. When she tried to escape, a female relative of the “groom” threatened that she would be cursed if she dared step over the threshold to leave. Vulkan now reluctantly lives with her abductor as his wife, having been forced to give up university and any thought of a job, and is determined never to allow any sons she may have to kidnap a bride.
There are an estimated 11,500-16,500 girls kidnapped to become brides every year in Kyrgyzstan. Research on bride kidnapping carried out in 2010 by women’s NGO Public Foundation Open Line found that over 50% of the 268 women interviewed had never seen their kidnapper prior to the abduction and that 81% of kidnappings ended in marriage. 74.2% of the women surveyed stated that pressure, including threats and violence, was exerted on them by the kidnapper and his family to force them to stay. 23% of women revealed that they had been raped before marriage. One respondent was determined to report the kidnapping to the police after escaping, but was abducted again and raped by the kidnapper, which forced her to accept the marriage.
Culturally, the stigma attached to an unmarried girl spending a night with a man (whether or not there is rape) is too much for both victims of bride kidnapping and their parents, and many reluctantly agree to the marriage. Ainura, kidnapped in 2010, was told by her mother “you must stay here otherwise you dishonor me and yourself.” Some parents agree to accept money and gifts from the kidnapper in exchange for a promise not to go to the police. For some victims, the kidnapping and subsequent forced marriage is too much to bear. Tragically, in 2010, two young women committed suicide in Issyk-Kul Province after being kidnapped and forced into marriage.
Bride kidnapping is a form of violence against women. It violates women and girls’ rights to bodily integrity, freedom of movement and freedom from violence. It leads to forced marriage and often repeated rape, servitude and denial of educational and other opportunities.
Equality Now is seeking your help to stop this brutal practice.
To learn more and take action, click here
Please write to the Kyrgyz government officials (details at the link above), calling on them to ensure that cases of bride kidnapping are properly investigated and prosecuted to the full extent of the law and to raise public awareness about the crime of bride kidnapping and the importance of equal rights within society. Request that they strengthen current legislation against bride kidnapping, including accomplice liability for relatives complicit in the kidnapping, and introduce amendments to guarantee protection of victims and provide easy access to medical, social and legal services.