The child brides of Kyrgyzstan: kidnapped and forced to marry

“My mother was kidnapped to be a bride. My older sister was also kidnapped. Almost all of my relatives were bride kidnapped,” confesses a young woman from Kyrgyzstan in this short film. She, too, was kidnapped and forced to marry at 16. “I didn’t know anything about marriage. It was so difficult because I did not love him. I had no choice but to give in. But I never gave him my heart.”

Nearly 1 in 10 girls are married before the age of 18 in Kyrgyzstan. A large proportion of child marriages in the country happen as a result of bride kidnapping, according to the United Nations Population Fund.

Bride kidnapping is illegal in Kyrgyzstan. Since 2013, abducting someone for marriage against their will is a crime punishable by up to seven years in prison. Still, the practice continues and perpetrators are rarely prosecuted.

In this film, we hear the voices of women who were kidnapped and forced into marriage at a young age. Despite the stories of tragedy, there is a glimmer of hope, both from the women themselves and the younger generation to follow, that bride kidnapping will one day become a thing of the past.

“Two friends from the village came to me asking me to help them kidnap a girl they knew,” explains a young man interviewed in the film. “I told them “You shouldn’t do it. Instead, I can help you meet her and talk to her. It will be better for all of us. You should ask yourself: what would you do if this was your sister?”

About the film

This short film was produced by Alya Productions, in partnership with local organisation Kyz Korgon Institute. Alya Productions are working on “After the Rain”, a film on bride kidnapping and child marriage in Kyrgyzstan. Once released, the film will be shown in communities across Kyrgyzstan to spark conversations on this entrenched practice. To find out more, click here.