Stopping bride kidnapping in Kyrgyzstan


Photo: UN Trust Fund/Theresia Thylin
Photo: UN Trust Fund/Theresia Thylin

“In the past women had no options. We just had to stay [in that marriage]. But it's good that now [the] youth is changing... The times are changing and we also have to change,” says Kularisa, 62-year old, who had endured bride kidnapping and now talks with her 15-year old granddaughter Talantbek about the issue. Talantbek is participating in a programme from the National Federation of Female Communities of Kyrgyzstan (NFFCK) supported by a grant from the UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women (UN Trust Fund) that has introduced the first-ever curriculum on gender-based violence in Kyrgyz language in schools in rural Kyrgyzstan. The UN Trust Fund is managed by UN Women on behalf of the UN System.

Kyrgyzstan has laws to end domestic violence, but social acceptance of violence against women and girls remains widespread. The problem of “bride kidnapping”—the practice of abducting a girl or a woman to marry her—is particularly tenacious. Close to 12,000 girls and women are kidnapped every year for forced and/or early marriage.

The UN Trust Fund supports the NFFCK to implement a school-based education programme to empower girls, initiate inter-generational dialogues to change attitudes and to end bride kidnapping, early and/or forced marriages. More than 600 young adults have already taken part in the programme, and attitudes are shifting.

“I could see that girls and women were not equal to men in my everyday life, so I got interested in different laws,” says 16-year old Aiturgan, another participant. “I believe it's very important that we all know about our rights. I want us to be feminists, and we should be working together to fight against any violence.”

To read the full story visit the UN Trust Fund’s website.