#01 Human Rights in Film

Kidnapped Respect

A good marriage starts with tears. Really?

One after another. The tears are silently falling down the cheeks of a Kyrgyz teenage girl. She is standing in the far corner of a room, trembling. The group of older women is encircling her, trying to put the white scarf on her head. – Be reasonable! Look at us, we have all been kidnapped brides once!

The girl, Kairgul, manages to escape back to her family and her boyfriend. She wants to finish her studies before getting married. She is lucky to have her parents agreed upon her rejection of a boy. She is lucky that not having spent a night at her “groom-to-be” house. Otherwise she would have risked lots of honor and respect and, as a consequence, a social exclusion.

Kairgul is quite an exception in the rural population of Kyrgyzstan, where bride kidnapping, although illegal from 1994, still constitutes a tradition. As shown in “Bride Kidnapping in Kyrgyzstan” by Petr Lom, “woman yields, man takes” is still one of the rules of a marriage there. Hence, approximately 80% of kidnapped girls stay with the new husbands, trying to “learn how to love them”.

The power of tradition stays above the doctrine of law. The boys involved in the procedure are never sued, hence kidnapping remains practised as a cheaper (than paying the bride’s parents) way to get a wife. According to the current statistics, every third bride is won in the illegal way.

Some of the couples holds water, but the number of divorces rising parallely to the rise of the number of kidnappings suggests that the “duty to love a husband” may become an unbearable burden on the wife’s life.

The problem is extremly complex, as the violation of human rights oures in the sphere of tradition, which cannot be changed instantaneously. Only by campaigns and education, can the situation be changed. One of the Kyrgyz proverb says that “a good marriage starts with good tears”. Does it really? Lom’s movie leaves the viewers with doubts and questions.

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