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November 27, 2010 / subramanyam

Bride Kidnapping


Was reading about Kyrgyzstan on Wikipedia and there I stumbled on this word Bride kidnapping. Interesting word it is, and I left Kyrgyzstan and started reading about Bride Kidnapping.

Bride Kidnapping is a tradition in many Central Asian and African countries where the guys choose a girl , do a background search about her family ,kidnap her and then marry her. So this is a marriage based on abduction/capture.

Weird it might sound , but this practice is still thrives in countries like Kyrgyzstan and some other Central Asian countries in and around it , Kazakhstan,Karakalpakstan( an autonomous region in Uzbekistan) serve as some examples ,this practice has takers in some African countries as well.

Modus operandi

These abductions might be of two types consensual and non-consensual, a consensual abduction is one where the girl is ready to elope with the boy and then she actually lets the boy to take to an undisclosed location so that they can convince the parents later. The non-consensual abduction is one where the girl is forcibly abducted by the guy and taken either to his home or an undisclosed location. Here the boy would choose the girl, he finds out where she goes regularly (probably near the fields or the place where she works etc). He then discusses this with his friends, hires a car and waits near the place where she is bound to come. Once he and his friends spot her, they forcibly abduct her and bring her to his house.

Many a time ,the grooms family help him in abducting the girl , once she is kidnapped and brought to the house , the female relatives of the groom try to convince the girl to marry the boy. Then they(the prospective groom’s family) send a delegation to the girl’s house to fix the marriage.

Why do girls live with this?

More than two-thirds of these kidnapping’s are non-consensual; in most of the cases the girls do not like this kind of marriages. Then why do they accept this? They accept this because they have little choice .In many cases the boy may sexually assault the girl so that she submits for the marriage .Even if that’s not done, the women are made to stay with their abductors due to pressure from their families and the fear of being ostracized from society if they returned, and not being able to find a husband. A night’s stay in the abductors’ place is enough for the society to come to a conclusion that she is impure. That’s the sort of society these central Asian folks live in .Hence in most of the cases either the girls make a compromise themselves or her family forces her to make a compromise.

The girl has the final say however, in case she does not want to marry the guy she can still walk out of the marriage. Rarely, very rarely you would see a girl using this opportunity , most of them submit for the fear of getting ostracized in the society. 

What happens to the marriage?

Do the boy and girl live happily thereafter, the answer is big no. More than 60% of the marriages fail. There are many reasons for this .

The first and foremost is the groom , not every boy in Central Asia resorts to bride kidnapping. Bride kidnapping is generally done by the men who are often of lower social status, and are normally rejected during alliances because of disease, poor character, alcoholic addiction or criminality. Poverty is also a reason, in many cases people who cannot fund their wedding and who cannot pay the bride price also resort to Bride kidnapping. So how can we expect the girl to stay with a man who is an alcoholic or a man with a poor character and criminal behavior. In many cases the domestic violence against the girls is also high. Hence many a time we see girls walking out of the marriages, in many cases this practice leaves very negative scars on the girl’s minds, to the extent that after so many years of being divorced, hardly any of them re-marry.

What does the law say ?

Almost all the country’s in Central Asia have banned Bride Kidnapping. In all these countries there are stringent punishments for this practice. Still this practice thrives because it’s considered a part of their culture . Abducted girls and their families rarely call the police. As I mentioned previously, It is considered a disgrace if the stolen girl returns home. Rumors can spread that her abductor returned her himself because she was impure. This is enough for a girls marital life to be ruined, hence the bride’s family normally convince her to come to terms with abduction and try to portray a picture that all is well.

Looking forward for a day when this weird medieval age practice comes to an end .

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