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Kyrgyzstan

Working in the capital of Kyrgyzstan, Bishkek since 1999 and in Cholpon-Ata, on the shores of Lake Issyk-Kul, SOS Children's Villages cares for children affected by high unemploeyment and works with families to prevent child abandonment … more about our charity work in Kyrgyzstan

Global growth of bridenapping

Girls are being abducted, raped and forced into marriage in at least 17 countries around the world, from China to Mexico to Russia to southern Africa.

In communities in each of these countries it is common for men or gangs of men to snatch young women and girls from their families, rape them, then force them into marriage.

There are few continents where this isn’t happening, but with few women reporting it as a crime and few police investigations, there are not global figures.

But, there is some evidence that it is on the rise, according to The Independent on Sunday.

In Kyrgyzstan – one of the few countries to keep any figures on bridenapping – it has become more widespread since the fall of communism. There it once was a tradition, but done purely for show with the bride’s permission. But now there are suggestions people are doing it violently without the woman’s consent to avoid the shame of not having enough money for a dowry.

"Once bride kidnapping was characteristic mostly in rural areas, but it has become widespread everywhere, including the capital, Bishkek," said Gazbubu Babayarova, who set up an organisation campaigning to stop bridenapping in Kyrgyzstan.

About a third of ethnic Kyrgyz women are kidnapped brides, and studies show that, in certain areas, 80 per cent of marriages involved kidnapping the bride, the newspaper said. This year, two 20-year-old students committed suicide after being kidnapped for brides. In their home region, people demonstrated about the deaths of Venera Kasymalieva and Nurzat Kalykova. But it didn’t make much difference.

It’s a criminal offence and carries a three year prison sentence, but hardly anyone is prosecuted and most get away with a small fine.

Women around the world have similar stories. But without any global campaign on the issue, which is seldom talked about, there is little hope for other women and girls.

Hayley attribution