Angry protests over death of ‘bride kidnapping’ victim
Angry protests have broken out in Kyrgyzstan after a woman
was abducted and killed in a case of “bride kidnapping”.
Aizada Kanatbekova, 27, was snatched on Monday by three men who
pushed her into a car. It is believed one of them wanted to marry her by force.
Security footage showing the abduction spread widely on social media
but police could not track the vehicle.
Ms Kanatbekova’s body was found in an abandoned car on Wednesday.
A shepherd came across the vehicle in a field outside the capital,
Bishkek, and raised the alarm.
The young woman’s kidnapper and suspected murderer was also found dead.
Police said he died from knife wounds, which were thought to have been self-inflicted.
Ms Kanatbekova’s family said she knew the man, and they had asked him
before not to hassle her. Another of the three men was detained by police,
according to state TV. The illegal abduction of women for marriage is
thought to be widespread in the country. Many believe bride kidnapping
is an ancient Kyrgyz tradition, but some researchers argue it became
popular in the Central Asian country only a few decades ago.
It was outlawed in 2013, but convictions are rare and women are often
unwilling to report it for fear of reprisals. UN figures suggest one in five
marriages in Kyrgyzstan happens after a woman has been kidnapped.
Parents and relatives relentlessly pressure young men in Kyrgyzstan
to marry after they reach a certain age. For many, especially those
from poor families, bride kidnapping is the cheapest and quickest way.
About 500 people gathered to demonstrate in front of the interior ministry
on Thursday, shouting “Shame!” and demanding the minister’s resignation.
“It is impossible to be quiet and observe the violence that our women,
who lack any rights, must endure,” local journalist Mahinur Niyazova
told the AFP news agency. Prime Minister Ulugbek Sharipov urged the
crowd to “have patience” while police investigate, but several called for
him to be fired too. Some of the signs carried by protesters read:
“Who will answer for Aizada’s murder?” and “Who still thinks that
murder is a tradition?” Writing on Facebook, Kyrgyzstan’s
President Sadyr Japarov described Ms Kanatbekova’s death as
“a tragedy and pain not only for her family, but also for our entire state”.
The incident should be “the last bride kidnapping in history”, he said.
Kyrgyzstan has been here before, however.
In 2018, a 20-year-old medical student, Burulai Turdaaly Kyzy, was stabbed
to death at a police station, as she prepared to file a statement against her kidnapper.
Her killer was sentenced to 20 years in prison, and more than 20 police officers were punished.