Target: Prime Minister of Kyrgyzstan Zhantoro Satybaldiyev
Goal: Protect Kyrgyz women from being forced into marriage.
Many young women in Kyrgyzstan are currently falling victim to a practice of bride-kidnapping, in which a man sets out to kidnap a woman of his choice and force her into marrying him. Because of a general lack of awareness on the issue, as well as traditional customs which discourage victims from reporting the crime, kidnapped women often feel that they have no choice but to submit to their abductor’s will. Distressed by their fate, many women have even been driven to suicide, and yet the practice continues to this day.
Though bride-kidnapping is outlawed, the Country Report for Human Rights Practice states that as many as 12,000 cases of bride-kidnappings occur each year in Kyrgyzstan, sometimes with girls as young as 14. Any attempts at rejecting the marriage or escaping are nearly impossible, as victims of bride-kidnapping are taken into the abductor’s village and held captive by the locals until they “consent” to the marriage. The longer she refuses, the more chances she will stay overnight, which is often seen to others as their “consummation of marriage.” As a result, escaping after having consented to the marriage or after an extended period of time will only earn her reproach from her community.
Laws alone are not enough to stop this practice. The Kyrgyz Republic needs to act now, and give these women the resources they need to combat this practice. Take a stand now toward womens’ rights and demand that the government of Kyrgyzstan implement methods to enforce current policies. By signing the petition below, you urge the Kyrgyz Republic to provide women with resources to access knowledge and training on their legal rights, as well as how to utilize them to their defense.
Dear Prime Minister of Kyrgyzstan Zhantoro Satybaldiyev,
The ancient practice of bride-kidnapping has caused great suffering for the women of Kyrgyzstan. This custom, in which a man sets out to kidnap and force a girl into marrying him, has not only devastated the lives of many women, but has even led to some of their deaths by suicide.
Despite laws which prohibit this practice, the Country Reports for Human Rights Practice states that as many as 12,000 woman are kidnapped each year, a number which reflects the degree of government involvement. Many communities, especially in rural areas, see little enforcement of these laws by authority officials and because of limited awareness of the issue and how to fight it, many women feel that they have no other choice but to submit to their kidnapper.
What these women need in order to combat this outdated and misogynist practice is your involvement in the issue. I urge you to implement methods to address this issue and provide resources for Kyrgyz women to access knowledge on their legal rights and how they can utilize them to their defense.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Petr Lom via Speak4Justice