Bride Kidnapping in Kyrgyzstan

28 Nov

“In rural Kyrgyzstan men still marry their women the old-fashioned way: by abducting them off the street and forcing them to be their wife. Bride kidnapping is a supposedly ancient custom that’s made a major comeback since the fall of Communism and now accounts for nearly half of all marriages in some parts. We traveled to the Kyrgyz countryside to follow/aid and abet a young groom named Kubanti as he surprised his teenage girlfriend Nazgul with the gift of marriage/kidnapping.”

As someone who studied anthropology, I’m pretty aware of cultural relativism and how I need to be aware of my biases as a Westerner when looking at practices from another culture, but frankly, this shit is fucked up. I don’t have any witty quips or intelligent commentary, other than I felt nauseous the entire time I was watching it. What the actual fuck.

And now wikipedia tells me that “approximately half of all Kyrgyz marriages include bride kidnapping; of those kidnappings, two thirds are non-consensual.”* Like, hey I just met you, and this is crazy, but here’s my posse of friends and we’re going to throw you in a car and force you to marry me.

Unsurprisingly, forced marriages have a higher rate of domestic abuse, child neglect, divorce, and suicide. Because being abducted is the perfect start for marital bliss.

As an added bonus, count up how many times people call “bride kidnapping” an ancient Kyrgyz custom and basically shrug their shoulders at the situation.

I realize that it’s a delicate line to walk to say “shit is fucked up” and not imply that the entire Kyrgyz culture is backwards and lesser than Western cultures, but this shit is most definitely fucked up. I don’t know what I can do to change this, but from the looks of the protesters early on in the video, it seems the Kyrgyz people themselves might be figuring this one out on their own.

All in all, this bumps Kyrgyzstan below Afghanistan as a place I’d one day visit and Afghanistan is still an active war zone.


*Kleinbach & Salimjanova, Kyz ala kachuu and adat: Non-consensual bride kidnapping and tradition in Kyrgyzstan, Central Asian Survey, (June 2007) 26:2, 217 – 233.


One Response to “Bride Kidnapping in Kyrgyzstan”

  1. Dad November 28, 2012 at 9:29 pm #

    I am a firm believer that women should carry firearms at all times and know how to use them – especially if you live in Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Afghanistan, basically any stan country.

    Nothing takes the romance out of a forced marriage like a dead groom.

    I wonder if the bride still gets to keep the wedding presents if she shoots the groom?
    Perhaps a note to Miss Manners on that question.

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