15 November 2012

Bride Kidnapping, part 50 million

There was a good post at Registan the other day about bride kidnapping. It's written by a Kyrgyz reporter and is focused on Kyrgyz response and action to a proposed law in parliament to increase the potential prison time in case of a conviction for bride kidnapping.

There is a significant legal ramification if this law is passed.  Kyrgyz law differentiates between different types of crime and the basic way to tell what sort of crime it is is to look at the prison time.  Different types of crimes (private, public/private, and public) are investigated in different ways.  Only public crimes require that the police get involved.  For other types of crimes, the police can only get involved if the victim wants them to.

Right now the prison time for bride kidnapping means that it is not a public crime.  So the police, by law, cannot get involved unless the woman who was kidnapped initiates things herself.  As the article at Registan points out, a woman in that situation is extremely unlikely to do so and there are a huge number of reasons why which I've talked about often elsewhere on this blog.

But this new law would move bride kidnapping into the public crimes section.  That means that anyone who knows the crime has been committed (her family members, someone in the boy's family, a friend, someone on the street, anyone, really) can contact the police and at least get an investigation going- they don't have to wait for the kidnapped woman's okay.  That doesn't mean that the police actually will do that, but by law they would have to.

This distinction in crimes is not well-known at all in Kyrgyzstan so it's entirely possible that it wouldn't make much of a difference in getting these cases prosecuted.  I'm also completely unconvinced that the families of either the boy or the girl generally want the police involved at all.  I think it's possible that this law would just make the boy's family more anxious to smooth things over, but that the marriage would still take place.  I still don't think a legal solution is what will change people's perceptions of bride kidnapping.  Education will.

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