Thursday, 15 August 2013

Bride kidnapping: a thriving tradition

Today, I had stumbled upon an article on CNN about bride-napping within yet another ex-USSR country, which this time would be Kyrgyzstan. This article had reminded me about all of those stories
about stolen women in the Chechen Republic and the Republic of Ingushetia. As a young child growing up in the Soviet nation, you hear about all sorts of stories.
At the time, as a young girl, it actually sounded romantic. Why not? You could be lonely while waiting for your prince, until one day he would appear in your life. Then he would run away with you toward your wonderful future together.
As I had grown older, my naivety had also disappeared. What must a woman do if they are kidnapped by men that they do not wish to be with, don't love, or even worse—hate, and are beaten by? So of course, it may appear romantic as a young girl, but it isn't when you know the facts surrounding it.

As you can see from the below video, it has become a significant enough problem that even the Chechen leader is asking for it to stop!

From an online magazine called Vlasti, written in Russian, it states that: “Bride kidnapping in the Caucasus was common, although even in pre-revolutionary Russia the thieves were prosecuted. In Soviet times, the kidnapped girl fell under the heading along the lines of 'crimes that make up the remnants of the local customs'. But it was tradition of living, despite the fact that the Criminal Code provided for kidnapping held a sentence of imprisonment for up to four years. However, one comment on this article (126 of the Criminal Code) stated: 'A person who voluntarily releases the abducted would be exempt from criminal liability if he committed no other crime'. It turns out that to kidnap is very convenient there.”

For those very strange men, of whom think that it is quite normal or even acceptable, you probably don't know these simply facts:
    • Women are not “things” or “objects” to toy with
    • You are no longer a child, so stop acting like you should receive something by force if others say “no”
    • Another woman has the same right to live their own life by her own choosing
    • Your marriage would never be a happy one if they are forced into it.
There is a lot more one could say on that as well! It is odd that anyone believes that forcing or deceiving a woman would result in a happy marriage. In fact, it wouldn't at all. It'd simply result in an endless cycle of deception, unhappiness, along with physical and mental pain.

For these men it is considered beneficial to both the man and women. This silly boy decides that, because he does not wish to spend time winning her over nor suffering her answer of no, it is better to force her into the situation instead. To him it is much simpler to kidnap her, and then the elderly will settle the conflict in the end. Of course, any of the families are ready to agree to the marriage, as a raped women is then “broken” and no longer eligible for anyone else according to their cultural beliefs. So the woman is forced into a marriage that she didn't want.

Of course, for the female's family there is considered a “benefit” according to their culture. There is no need for a dowry apparently. So it is easier for them to just hand the woman over to this man that raped her, and
then let him be with her from that point on. Whether their daughter wishes for it or not.

In the cases of bride kidnapping, mind you, authorities often do not wish to get involved as it can usually result in a scandal of sorts. It is normally handled through the persuasion of relatives, telling the woman to be merciful to her kidnapper because he faces jail if she does not agree to marry him!

And if, Allah forbid, he would be killed in prison. The family would then threaten the bride with shame instead! This all helps to convince the woman through pressure, manipulation, in order to become a wife in a family for someone that she does not love.

But of course these marriages are often short lived. Even the children cannot keep a woman next to an unloved and hated husband, whom had forced her into a marriage through kidnapping, rape, and manipulation. But sadly, also according to the tradition, the children are often kept by the father not the victim whom is the mother.

The fate of these divorced women within Chechnya, or Ingushetia, or even Kyrgyzstan, were then shunned by the society around them. They would be defined as second-class citizens, and would remain her brand for as long as she would remain unmarried.

As much as I understand we should be living in the 21st century now. People should know that culture and traditions don't define the people, and in fact people create these cultural traditions themselves. It is up to us to define traditions, and aspects of our culture, that respects people. Not the other way around.

It was often awful to read how some parents had said that they would be excited to see their children kidnapped by the age of 25 if they were not married by then. For me, my reaction always upon hearing that was: what the hell?!?! Really?!?! No, really?!?!
Freaking crappy parents.

Oh and there is an interesting video by Vice that you might find interesting here:

Hopefully this was all informative for you and all of our readers, as it was for me. And the last video especially was very disturbing.  Hopefully something can be done about this truly screwed up mentality and awful "tradition".