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Reaction of Kazakhstanis to kidnapping tested 30 сентября 2014, 13:45

A South-Kazakhstani TV channel has tested public reaction to kidnapping of a girl in Kazakhstan's southern city of Shymkent.
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South-Kazakhstani Televison of High Quality TV channel has tested public reaction to kidnapping of a girl in Kazakhstan's southern city of Shymkent, Tengrinews reports.

The TV channel acted out a scene of a girl's kidnapping in several spots throughout the city.

The first scene took place in the center of Shymkent, near the Central Department Store in broad daylight. A girl in green dress was walking down the street when two young men approached her and tried to force her into a car. Many passers-by noticed it, but no one stopped to interfere. Only one brave man ran up and helped the girl. When asked why he decided to help, the man hesitated to answer.

The second scene was acted out on Ualikhanov Street. Again, only one man reacted to the girl’s shouts. “One should help a damsel in distress,” the man explained.

When the girl’s kidnapping was played out in Eastern District of Shymkent city, no one was eager to help her. 

At the last two spots on Momyshuly Street and the Central Park, no one was even trying to help the girl’s until the actors created a panic to attract more attention. Only then, people started interfering and trying to rescue the girl.

The video leaves a sensation of shock and disappointment and raises the question of why the majority of passers-by are so indifferent to a girl screaming out for help? Probably, because of a long-time Kazakh tradition of bride kidnapping, which is no longer observed in Kazakhstan, but still remains some small part of the nations mentality, especially in southern regions of Kazakhstan.

It was obvious that the men were trying to 'kidnap' the girl against her will and that it was no pre-marriage game of young people having fun and enjoying time together acting out the old tradition. Passers-by clear saw it but were too indifferent or too scared to interfere.

At the end of the video, the authors remind that bride kidnapping is a criminal offense in Kazakhstan punishable by 7 to 12 years in prison under the Article 125 of the Criminal Code of Kazakhstan.

Bride kidnapping once used to be a Kazakh tradition. It was a option that a man could reserve to if he was too poor to pay the required dowry for the woman he wanted to marry, or if his or her parents were blankly against the marriage. However there were also cases when the tradition was used to kidnap and marry a woman against her will. This often caused blood feuds among families.

The tradition is no longer observed in Kazakhstan. But part of it have remained as a form of an game for the young people who are planning to get married. 

Regrettably there are also cases, rare ones, involving a man trying to kidnap a woman and force her into marriage under the guise of the old Kazakh tradition of bride kidnapping. In some of this cases the involved men ridiculously view it as a sound way to dodge courting and dating a woman before marrying her.

Such actions are qualified as kidnapping of a person and punished by 7 to 12 years in prison under the Article 125 of the Criminal Code of Kazakhstan.

However, there has not been a single precedent of anyone being jailed for bride kidnapping in Kazakhstan. None of the reports filed to the police by the kidnapped women or their relatives have ended up in court. In all the cases all they wanted was to get the man to take the kidnapped woman back home. None of the women wanted to proceed with their reports to court. Probably, because they wanted no extra publicity for the incidents.

In December 2013, members of the League of Women Creative Initiative urged Kazakhstan Government to introduce criminal liability specifically for bride kidnapping. Later, the members of the Majilis (Lower Chamber of the Parliament) discussed toughening the punishment for bride kidnapping in Kazakhstan and introducing a specific wording for "kidnapping for the purpose of marrying" into the law to improve the prosecution practices, but the lawmakers failed to come to any final decision.

Writing by Assel Satubaldina, editing by Tatyana Kuzmina

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