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|Photo courtesy of Open Line|
UPDATE JANUARY 28, 2013:The president of Kyrgyzstan, Mr. Almazbek Atambayev, has signed a bill into law to increase the maximum prison sentence for bride kidnapping from three to seven years, and up to 10 years if the kidnapped bride is younger than 17, which is the minimum legal age for marriage. Equality Now welcomes this development, and we thank the many of you who have been supporting this campaign. We will continue to strategize with our partners regarding how to ensure that the law is implemented and that women's rights are properly protected.
Please continue to write to President Atambayev urging him to continue his efforts to make bride kidnapping a thing of the past and so end the suffering of thousands of women.
Equality Now has just issued Women’s Action 39.1 Kyrgyzstan: Call to End Bride Kidnapping calling on the government of Kyrgyzstan to end the practice of bride kidnapping. It is estimated that between 11,500-16,500 incidents a year of bride kidnapping take place in Kyrgyzstan. Women are kidnapped by men wanting to marry them and kept imprisoned until they agree to the marriage. While imprisoned by the ‘grooms’ they are pressured to agree to the marriage and threatened with and can be subjected to violence if they refuse, including being raped. Those who manage to escape are left stigmatized with little access to help or justice.
In 2009, on her way home from university, Vulkan was abducted by a man who wanted her for his wife and imprisoned in his house. When she tried to escape, a female relative of the 'groom' threatened that she would be cursed if she dared step over the threshold to leave. Vulkan now reluctantly lives with her abductor as his wife, having been forced to give up university and any thought of a job, and is determined never to allow any sons she may have to kidnap a bride.
Please join Equality Now and call upon the government of Kyrgyzstan to ensure that cases of bride kidnapping are properly investigated and prosecuted and to raise public awareness about the importance of equal rights within society.