23 July 2005

Bride Kidnapping

While we were in Washington last week, we met a researcher, Russell Kleinbach, who has been studying bride kidnapping (Ala Kachuu) in Kyrgyzstan for the last 6 years. I had read about bride kidnapping in a variety of books, but none had a lot of information about the topic because so little research has been done. It was fascinating to see his presentation on the data they've collected and the film done by Petr Lom on the subject.

It is usually assumed that Ala Kachuu was a tradition in Kyrgyzstan (and some other areas of Central Asia and the rest of the world). Kleinbach's new research argues that, even though it is an ancient custom, it had never been widespread until the Soviet years. Research today indicated that around 50 percent! of marriages in KG now are a result of bride kidnapping. Of those, about 1/3 are consensual. Most girls who are kidnapped feel that they must marry their kidnappers or she will be shamed and never able to marry. She and her parents feel as if there are no other choices.

Kleinbach has started a campaign to educate people in KG on bride kidnapping. Ala Kachuu is illegal in KG; you can be put in jail for five years as a punishment. But their research shows that few Kyrgyz realize that it is illegal. They never found anyone who had been charged with a crime as a result of the law. They have also put together pledges for women and men against kidnapping.

There is much more information on Ala Kachuu on the internet, especially in the sites I linked above.

1 comment:

  1. I saw Petr Lom film on PBS a month or so back. It was fascinating and very disturbing.