Kyrgyzstan (formerly known as Kirghizia) is a Russian country located in Central Asia that has one traditional custom that has been causing serious controversy.
Here “bride kidnapping,” while technically illegal, is a widely practiced phenomenon, in which young men abduct a woman of their choosing–oftentimes complete strangers—and take them to their homes, where they are under intense pressure to marry.
“So why don’t the women just leave?”
In Kyrgyzstan culture, this is much easier said than done. Traditionally, once a woman is under the roof of a man, she is considered “tainted” and can’t marry anyone else out of shame.
Her family disowns her and society is less than kind to these “tainted” women. In these cases, the women have little to no alternate options–they are trapped. This often leads to intense depression, and even suicide.
The laws in Kyrgyzstan are also not on the women’s side. Bride kidnapping is very rarely punished, as the majority of brides and their families never press charges. In fact, in Kyrgyzstan, a sheep’s life is worth four times more than a young woman’s, according to the sentencing laws.
Take a deeper look into this controversial custom in this documentary.