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Kyrgyzstan

Around 100 UNiTE activists took part in an activity to install coloured flags in the center of the capital of Kyrgyzstan, Bishkek, on 10 December 2012. The 9800 red flags symbolize women who were kidnapped and married against their will, 2000 white flags symbolize the quantity of women suffering sexual violence and 7500 violet flags – women complained officially about domestic violence. | Photo: UN Women/Eric Gourlan

On 20 December 2012, the Kyrgyzstan Parliament approved legislation toughening the penalty for the widely-practiced custom of bride-kidnapping.

The practice of bride kidnapping is widespread in Kyrgyzstan and is still considered by some as a valuable tradition.

Kyrgyz-women

According to the Forum of Women’s NGOs of Kyrgyzstan, up to half of marriages of ethnic Kyrgyz women take place against their will, as a result of bride kidnapping.  Bride kidnapping is an extreme form of violence against women....

Equality-Now

Nov 2012: According to the Forum of Women’s NGOs of Kyrgyzstan, about 35–45% of marriages of ethnic Kyrgyz women take place against their will, as a result of bride kidnapping....

Although bride kidnapping is illegal in Kyrgyzstan, young girls, primarily from rural areas, are often still abducted and forced into marriage. (Photo: David Trilling)

Even though she was kidnapped, pressured into marrying a man from a nearby village, and then abandoned without means to sustain herself and the couple’s two young children, Totugul can’t rely on Kyrgyzstan’s courts for help.

Totugul’s story is common in Kyrgyzstan, especially in rural areas. Human rights lawyers say Kyrgyzstan’s legal code does little to protect victims of bride kidnapping.