A Crisis of Identity: The Rise of Bride Kidnapping in Kyrgyzstan


  • Dana Bagirova Trinity College Dublin


Peace Studies, Bride Kidnapping, Kyrgyzstan, Central Asian Studies, Gender Studies, International Development


The practice of bride kidnapping remains relatively popular in certain parts of the world, particularly in the rural Kyrgyzstan, where it is non-consensual at least half of the time. For Kyrgyzstan and its fellow post-Soviet republics, this issue clearly correlates to a sombre list of systematic gender issues, including domestic violence, sex crimes, and human trafficking, which have been on the rise since the nations’ acquiring of their independence. This essay discusses the diverging attitudes towards this custom, such as many members of the older generation decidedly (albeit, at times, begrudgingly) defending it as a tradition, as well as the experience of the various actors involved, from the kidnapper groom-to-be to the bride’s relatives. The aim is to demonstrate that the prevalence of this crime is intrinsically tied with Kyrgyzstan’s troubled past, a socio-economic context of scarcity, and a misguided quest for an authentic identity – all within a system of inadequate government regulation.



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