Bride kidnapping: tradition or crime?


Published on

Abstract of Presentation: Bride kidnapping: a tradition or a crime?

Bride kidnapping is among important social problems in modern Kyrgyzstan. The situation when a man kidnaps a woman for marriage is widespread, although officially it is treated as criminal offence according to the article 155 of Criminal Code of Kyrgyz Republic.
Studies by researcher Russell Kleinbach have found that approximately half of all Kyrgyz marriages include bride kidnapping; of those kidnappings, two thirds are non-consensual.
According to Gazzbubu Babayarova, founder of Kyz Korgon Institute, NGO campaigning for elimination of bride-kidnapping in Kyrgyzstan, between 68 and 75 percent of marriages in Kyrgyzstan take place with bride kidnapping. About fifty percent of such kind of marriages ends in divorce within the first year.
By many people in Kyrgyzstan bride kidnapping is estimated as a tradition. That’s why it is not easy to eliminate the problem today.
In one of the chapters of my research about customary law in family relations of Kyrgyz people I demonstrate that the tradition of bride kidnapping (“ala kachuu”) and modern practice are absolutely different.
And within my presentation named “Bride kidnapping: a tradition or a crime?” I am to explain the nature and the gist of the tradition of bride kidnapping and to demonstrate the difference between the tradition which existed in Kyrgyz history and absolutely unacceptable conduct, crime in reality, widespread in modern Kyrgyzstan.

Published in: Education
  • Be the first to comment

No Downloads
Total views
On SlideShare
From Embeds
Number of Embeds
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide

Bride kidnapping: tradition or crime?

  1. 1. ZHYLDYZ TEGIZBEKOVA,PhD, Associate Professor,Head of Law Program,International University of central Asia
  2. 2.  Bride kidnapping is the act of abducting a woman tomarry her. It includes a variety of actions ranging fromconsensual marriage to non-consensual kidnapping. The most common reasons given for why a womanwas kidnapped included:- a) it is a one of a form of traditional marriage,- b) the parents of the woman might not agree to themarriage,- c) to prevent the woman from marrying another man,- d) the woman might refuse a marriage proposal,- e) the man was unable to pay all wedding coasts.
  3. 3.  Consensual bride-kidnapping- bride kidnapping by mutual agreement of the brideand groom (for example, there is no parental consent);- Bride-kidnapping without her consent, but with theconsent of her parents (but in this case, the daughterconsciously agrees with the decision of parents);(Consensual bride-kidnapping was a tradition of Kyrgyzpeople) Non-consensual bride kidnapping – without herconsent and against the wishes of parents.(Non-consensual bride kidnapping was a crime accordingto the Kyrgyz customary law)
  4. 4. According to the Kyrgyz Customary LawBride kidnapping was considered:- as a form of marriage (kidnapping was carried out byarrangement).- as a crime (non-consensual bride kidnapping wasprohibited by Kyrgyz customary law).According to the Resolutions of the KyrgyzPeople Congress 1893 -1907 (“Ereje”) to commitkidnapping without the consent of the bride andher family was considered as a crime.
  5. 5. Tokmok Ereje – Resolution of Tokmok distric, 1893 -defined: To kidnap a bride without “her” and her parentsconsent was prohibited; To kidnap a somebody’s bride was prohibited; To kidnap a married woman was prohibited; To kidnap, rape or beat a bride was prohibited. In any way groom had to pay a bride-price.If a man stole the bride, but he was unable to pay thebride price to her father in a timely manner, judgecould allow, after talking with the father, to enter intoagreement with the latter.Non-consensual bride-kidnapping was an exception fromthe rules, it wasn’t a common practice among Kyrgyzpeople
  6. 6. Today the practice of non-consensual bride kidnapping iswidespread in Kyrgyzstan.According to the ombudsmans office, 18,000 girls arekidnapped for forced marriage in 2012 across the country.According to the NGO reports, its been estimated that up toa third of all ethnic Kyrgyz women in Kyrgyzstan may havebeen wedded in nonconsensual bride kidnappings (againstthe will of the women).Bride snatching in Kyrgyzstan is tightly connected to theissue of underage marriage since many of the abductedbrides are less than 18 years old.90% of all kidnapped women stay with their husbands.
  7. 7. Typically a non-consensual bride kidnapping involves aman and his friends taking a young woman by force ordeception to the home of his parents or a near relatives.She is held in a room and his female relatives convince herto put on the marriage scarf. If necessary she is keptovernight and is thus threatened by the shame of nolonger being a pure woman. When she agrees, allrelatives are notified and a marriage celebration takesplace in the following few days.
  8. 8. The results of Non-consensual kidnapping include:1. Physical abuse in the process of kidnapping causes bodily harm because ayoung woman is forced to come to a man’s house.2. Psychological violence of depriving women or rights choosing husband andfriends (according to the NGO reports, over 50% of the 268 women interviewedhad never seen their kidnapper prior to the abduction, 74.2% of the womensurveyed stated that pressure, including threats and violence, was exerted onthem by the kidnapper and his family to force them to stay);3. Rape (23% of women revealed that they had been raped before marriage. Onerespondent was determined to report the kidnapping to the police after escaping,but was abducted again and raped by the kidnapper, which forced her to acceptthe marriage).4. The negative economic, medical and psychological consequences of stealing abride, Thirty percent increase in divorce rate is explained by the fact that akidnapped woman is not ready for marriage.5. There is an increase in the number of divorced women engaged in prostitution.6. Bride kidnapping has come under sharp criticism after two kidnapped bridescommitted suicide in 2010 (Tragically, two young women (both 20-year-oldstudents) committed suicide in Issyk-Kul Province after being kidnapped andforced into marriage).
  9. 9. According to the legislation of the Kyrgyz Republic Bride kidnappingis illegal:- Article 13 (4) of Kyrgyzstan’s constitution guarantees that “men and womenhave equal rights and freedoms and equal opportunities for their realization”.- According to Article 36 of the Constitution, no marriage shall be registeredwithout benevolent and mutual consent of the parties to the marriage”.- The Family Code (Article 2) defines marriage as "an equal union between a manand a woman concluded under full consent of the parties to build a family,generation economic and moral relations between spouses"- Under the Kyrgyz Criminal Code (Article 155), it is an offense to force a womaninto marriage or to kidnap a woman for a marriage against her will.On 20 December 2012, the Parliament approved a new legislationtoughening the penalty for bride-kidnapping. The President of Kyrgyzstan gavethe amendment to the Criminal Code, gave his official approval on 26 January2013. Once published in early February, the new sentence for forcing women intomarriage range up to 10 years. The offense was previously punishable by amaximum three-year prison term.
  10. 10.  Although bride kidnapping is illegal under Article 155 ofKyrgyzstan’s Criminal Code, there is little evidence that violationsof the law against kidnapping are punished. Only one out of 700 cases is pursued by the justice sector. Only one in 1,500 cases of abduction results in a judicial sentencein Kyrgyzstan. Before January 2013, The state could intervene only if a complaintwas filed directly by the victim. Legal action started only after avictim files a suit. But, in many bride kidnapping cases, thewoman is isolated within the home of the abductor, and mustovercome daunting obstacles to contact her relatives or the police.Even if her family was aware that she had been kidnapped, theywere usually powerless to press charges against the abductor onbehalf of the woman. Victims of bride kidnapping do notgenerally want to draw attention to themselves. According to the new legislation the bride kidnapping iscategorized as a grave offence. Its mean that the state in the faceof prosecutors and law-enforcement bodies can initiate legalaction themselves without waiting for the victims lawsuit.
  11. 11. International human rights laws define that marriage shall be entered into only with thefree and full consent of the intending spouses.International Legal Tools to Combat Bride Kidnapping1) The United Nations Charter, which Kyrgyzstan ratified on 2 March1992, particularly the Preamble, Article 1, Article 55, and Article 56.2) The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, particularly, Article 3,Article 4, and Article 5, Article 9, Article 12 and Article 16.Articles 3, 4, 5, 9, and 12 are in disregard in that liberty and security of aperson are not respected by kidnapping.Article 16 of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights clearlyestablishes that men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race,nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family. They areentitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution.3) The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which wasratified by Kyrgyzstan 7 Oct 1994, particularly Article 2, Article 7, Article 8, Article9, Article17, and Article 23.4) The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights,which Kyrgyzstan ratified on 7 Oct 1994, particularly in Article 10, Par. 1.5) The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of DiscriminationAgainst Women [ CEDAW], which Kyrgyzstan ratified on 10 February 1997, inArticle 16.
  12. 12. Jamal Frontbek-kyzy, chairwoman of the Muslim womensNGO “Mutaqalim”, believes that underage marriage should bea decision taken by the girl and no one else."Getting married at an early age is the personal decision ofevery girl and no one can force her, not even her parents," shesaid. "Sometimes, when a girl says she is willing to get marriedat an early age, parents oppose her decision. This is thepersonal decision of that girl. I want to repeat again thatkidnapping or forced marriage is against Islam."Many kidnapped brides have their union sanctioned by areligious ceremony. But underage marriages are generally notregistered by the state, leaving the girls with few legal rights.
  13. 13.  Only consensual bride-kidnapping was tradition ofKyrgyz people.At present time only consensual bride kidnapping(mutual agreement of the groom and bride) is legal. Non-consensual bride kidnapping was and is a crime.