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Bride kidnapping is medieval: Governor of South Kazakhstan oblast

16 december 2013, 00:37
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Photo courtesy of time.kg
Photo courtesy of time.kg
Askar Myrzakhmetov, Akim (Governor) of South Kazakhstan oblast, has called bride kidnapping a medieval act, Tengrinews reports.

“I believe, most people are aware that it is not right. There are may be some individual cases, we can no longer say that these practices are widespread. The number of such cases became much less since early 1990s. All the young people are well informed that it belongs to the past ages, it is medieval,” Myrzakhmetov said during the briefing in the Central Communication Service headquarters.

Besides, the Akim (Governor) assured that awareness-raising campaigns are still being held in the region. “We are not focusing solely on the issue of bride kidnapping, but also in the benefits of maintaining stability in the country, inter-ethnic accord and respect to national customs and traditions,” he said.

A public forum with opinion leaders, who can influence young people, is held in the region on a regular basis.

“Besides bride kidnapping we also discuss education of children and reasons why crime rate among young people - including highschool students - is growing. This is a big public platform, where these issues are discussed, and we are always saying that people are as responsible as the state authorities are,” Myrzakhmetov stressed.

Recently, a video of bride kidnapping that happened in Southern Kazakhstan were released on Facebook that caused indignation among the internet users. Later the activists of the Women's League of Creative Initiative - a Kazakhstan NGO - proposed to introduce criminal sanctions for bride kidnapping.

Bride kidnapping, also known as marriage by abduction or marriage by capture, is a practice in which a man abducts a woman he wishes to marry. Bride kidnapping has been practiced throughout the history all over the world and continues to occur in some countries of Central Asia, the Caucasus region and some parts of Africa.

In Kazakhstan, bride kidnapping (alyp khashu) is assumed as an old custom that occurred because sometimes a boy’s family was too poor to pay the bride wealth (kalym) or girl's family didn’t consent to the marriage.

Today, in very traditional families, mostly in rural areas, brides are sometimes kidnapped in order to speed up the process of getting married or reduce the costs. Kidnap marriages are less expensive and less complicated than the most common alternative -- an arranged marriage.

There have also been cases when a bride was kidnapped because the groom was worried that another suitor would marry his chosen bride first.

In some cases, a bride was kidnapped because she was already pregnant with the groom's child. And most brides were kidnapped because the groom knew it would be the only way to marry that particular girl.

Very few Kazakhs support the practice of kidnapping a woman against her will. It is counterintuitive that young women kidnapped against their will usually stay in these marriages to avoid the shame and stigma of returning home.

Although non-consensual bride kidnapping can be considered as an act of violence against women, the international development community has yet to respond to this issue.


By Altynai Zhumzhumina

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