Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Bride Kidnapping

Bride kidnapping is so common here. In fact it’s part of their ancient tradition.

Welcome to Kyrgyzstan.

It is a local custom here that when a boy wants to marry a girl or he sees a girl and likes to marry her, he just kidnaps the girl, mostly with help of friends.
The girl then is brought to the boy’s home where his family tries to force the kidnapped girl to wear a scarf on her head. Tradition dictates that once the bride accepts the ceremonial scarf, the matter is settled and the wedding can commence.

The girls say "Only one in 100 Kyrgyz girls marries her true love".

Very few girls, after putting up a strong fight, are left free. But once she leaves, the women in groom’s family sit outside and curse the departed girl. They say that her child will be a drunk and that her mother-in-law will be cruel.

What happens to the girls who accept the ceremonial scarf and wed? Most of them are very happy.
Some say “After the kidnapping, you've no choice. You start loving, even if you don't want to. You have to build a life."
Some are even happy this happened in their life.

What do the girls parents feel about this whole thing?
Well, the mother of the girl, as she herself has been through this, and as it’s part of their ancient tradition, they are pretty cool about it.

During Soviet times, bride kidnapping was banned, but in the past decade, the old tradition has revived, especially in rural areas.

For centuries, Kyrgyzstan was a remote, mountainous outpost along the Silk Road to China. Under Soviet rule, few Westerners ventured here. But since the country gained independence in 1991, Kyrgyzstan is slowly opening to the West.