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Bride kidnapping

Updated on October 26, 2014

Bride Kidnapping

I first learned about bride kidnapping in an Anthropology class in college. The topic shocked me. I had never heard of such a thing and never imagined that people would actually take part in bride kidnapping. I could not imagine why a man would forcefully take a woman and make her marry him.

The practice known as bride kidnapping has been practiced worldwide for thousands of years and should be stopped because it violates women’s rights.

Historically, bride kidnapping was a part of all societies and even took place in Europe. Modern western world weddings have roots in bride kidnapping. In a wedding, the groom’s men symbolize the friends of the groom who went to help capture the bride to be. The bride’s maids symbolize the women who tried to fight off the groom and the groom’s men. Wedding vows even date back to the 1500s. The words “I take thee to be my lawfully wedded wife” from The Book of Common Prayer have roots in bride kidnapping as well. It literally meant to forcefully take the bride from her family.

What happens in this practice is when a man kidnaps a woman that he wants to marry. First, the man looks for a woman he wishes to marry. After selecting the woman, the man and his friends kidnap the future wife. She is then forced to marry him. Bride kidnapping happens in Asia, the Caucasus region, and Africa.

Bride kidnapping occurs most often in Kyrgyzstan. The practice is illegal in the country but it still happens to this day. In Kyrgyzstan, the practice is considered a tradition and half of the marriages are a result of bride kidnapping. There is even a Kyrgyzstan proverb that states, “A good marriage should begin with tears.” This tradition has been ingrained into their society. Ninety percent of women who have been a victim of bride kidnapping will not get a divorce. Often times, a woman will not leave a marriage because her family will not accept her back and they believe that they could be cursed if they leave the marriage.

In a few rare cases, bride kidnapping is simply a ritual. This happens when a couple is engaged and both of them choose to take part in the ritual. It is similar to putting on a play. The man pretends to kidnap the woman and she puts up a fake fight.

This issue cannot be solved overnight. There is no immediate solution to this problem. People must be educated on women’s rights. This has to start with education in the schools. Children must be taught women’s rights at a young age. Children eventually become the adults of future generations. If people are not educated on women’s rights, the issue of bride kidnapping will continue to be an issue in future generations and women’s rights will be ignored.


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