New law in Kyrgyzstan toughens penalties for bride kidnapping
Advocacy efforts by civil society groups, activists, artists, sportspeople and the media, many of whom are participants in the UN Secretary-General’s UNiTE to End Violence against Women Campaign in Kyrgyzstan, led to the final approval of legislation toughening the sanction for bride-kidnapping. In December 2012, the Parliament of Kyrgyzstan approved legislation toughening the penalty bride-kidnapping. Once published, the new sentence for forcing women into marriage will now range up to 10 years. The offense was previously punishable by a maximum three-year prison term.
The practice of bride kidnapping is widespread in Kyrgyzstan and is still considered by some as a valuable tradition. According to data by the NGO Women Support Centre, which works to eliminate violence against women, there are at least 11,800 cases of forced abduction of women and girls every year in Kyrgyzstan, with more than 2,000 of those girls reported being raped as well. Few cases are ever pursued by the justice sector.
Around 100 UNiTE activists took part in an activity to install coloured flags in the center of the capital of Kyrgyzstan, Bishkek, on 10 December 2012. The 9800 red flags symbolized women who were kidnapped and married against their will, 2000 white flags symbolize the quantity of women suffering sexual violence and 7500 violet flags – women complained officially about domestic violence. Photo credit: UN Women/Eric Gourlan