Forced Marriages in Kyrgyzstan
In this country of central Asia, 12,000 women and girls are kidnapped and forced into marriages each year.
The Fights Continues Against Forcing to Marry
“Bride kidnapping” is still happening in Kyrgyzstan, Central Asia. It isn’t only a bride kidnapping, it’s the kidnapping of a person. A woman is taken away without her consent and forced to marry. This kidnapping of women is known as ala kachuu, an old Kyrgyzstani tradition that translates to “take and run.” Kidnapping for the purpose of marriage has been subject to 7 years’ imprisonment since 2012. About 12,000 girls and women are kidnapped every year for forced and/or early marriage, according to the UN (Women). Most cases do not make it to court as women retract their statements, often under pressure from female family members, fearing public shaming for disobedience or no longer being a virgin.
Burulai Turdaaly Kyzy was 20 years old when she was killed by the man who kidnapped her in northern Kyrgyzstan. He planned to marry her against her will. Before her death she was a medical student and planned to become a pediatrician. Now a new generation of women is eschewing acceptance of this abuse, with their campaign escalating in 2018 when the kidnapped bride was put in the same police cell as the man who abducted her — and stabbed to death. Her killer was jailed for 20 years but her murder sparked national outrage and protests against bride kidnappings in a country where campaigners said tougher sentences were handed down for kidnapping livestock than women until recently.
In May 2018, after an unsuccessful kidnapping attempt, her assailant stabbed her inside a police station. In June 2018, thousands of people came out to protest the tradition of forced marriages. Bride kidnapping, which also occurs in nations like Armenia, Ethiopia and Kazakhstan, was outlawed in 2013 in Kyrgyzstan where authorities recognized it could lead to marital rape, domestic violence, and psychological trauma.