Date: Mon, 3 Nov 1997 17:51:59 -0500
Part of a dialog on the CenAsia list, November 1997
Date: Mon, 3 Nov 1997 17:51:59 -0500
At 11:41 AM 11/3/97 -0800, Marianne Kamp wrote:
>Among Kazak and Kyrgyz friends, I heard quite a few accounts of
Marianne, thanks for your reply. About your note, I would ask, is the range of things you mention all the same thing? They are related by the notion that Kazaks practice bride-snatching (which may be a folklore on the order of the notion that French men practice philandery), but I wonder if they should be counted as expressions of 'tradition', or whether they are basically new approaches to new problems. If there is armed confrontation, then it sounds like people don't really accept this as a part of their culture. When there is armed confrontation, then it surely becomes the kind of account that people will talk about widely in a way that makes it appear to be a widespread phenomenon, especially when it is counted as just another example of that bride-snatching thing.
Of course, traditionally, bride-snatching was *not* a way of circumventing parental displeasure at a marriage which was desired by the bride and groom (or a way to avoid having to pay bridewealth?!)
Traditionally, 'bride-snatching' *has* been a ritualized element in the process of enacting a marriage -- much as brides in southern Central Asia are ritually required to pretend that their wedding day is the worst day of their lives, whether it is or not. But how shall we count the percent of marriages that are "bride-snatching". If the 80% that the Wall Street Journal reporter cites includes everything from ritual to eloping to armed abduction, do we want to consider this to be all one thing?
Date: Tue, 4 Nov 1997 16:34:17 -0500
I have been following the discussions on bride-snatching with interest. I was wondering about the law in the region and if there are cases where women chose not to stay in a bride-snatching situation and instead tried to follow a path of legal recourse. I know that this is unlikely given the amount of shame involved in such situations. Also, does anyone know of any good sources in English and Russian which provide more information on bride-snatching in Central Asia? Ihave a friend from Kyrgyzstan who is trying to do some research on the subject and she is looking for anysources. Thanks
I know that it historical routeOn Tue, 4 Nov 1997, Resul Yalcin wrote:
> John Schoeberlein-Engel, 3/11/97 23:50 wrote:
Date: Tue, 4 Nov 1997 16:47:31 -0500
I was also wondering if there are any books/articles/interviews published, in either Russian or English, that talk about the women's (the ones that were actually kidnapped) point of view on the issue. I would really like to know what women themselves think about this tradition, whether they support it, etc.
I would also like to hear what people on this list think about this. If you have any thoughts/ideas on the subject, either post to the list or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Date: Tue, 4 Nov 1997 20:43:25 GMT
John Schoeberlein-Engel, 3/11/97 23:50 wrote:
> is the range...things...mention all the same thing? They are
Well, the practice of the bride-snatching goes way back to the history of the nomads of the steppes. Although not widely practised today, it still exists in several societies in Central Asia. If this is not considered as expression of 'tradition' then what can be?
The bride-kidnappings, however, is not frequently practised and nor it is seen as part of their culture in the region.
> If there is armed confrontation, then it sounds
The armed confrontation should not necessarily mean that the bride-snatching is not part of their culture. The confrontation is very much depends on the individual cases. Even the most 'normal' (practised with the will of both bride and groom) bride-snatchings could end up with the armed confrontations, while some most bizarre bride-kidnappins are resolved by way of intense negotiations.
>But how shall we count the percent of
> If the 80% that the Wall Street
Date: Wed, 5 Nov 1997 09:29:34 +0000
"Bride kidnapping" is very much part of life in Southern Kyrgyzstan. However as recent letters have highlighted, it is a very wide-ranging issue. In the cities and more European-affected Kyrgyz communities it often occurs with consent between two people who are courting. Teaching in Osh this year, a number of my students were "kidnapped"- in all cases they were in love with their "abductors", who sometimes made it into a very romantic occaison with a meal at a restaurant etc. On one occaison the girl was pregnant already. Another girl wanted to marry but her mother was not overly anxious, so she arranged to be kidnapped, to which her parents then consented. In these cases the idea of kidnapping is clearly very different from its original cultural form.
However in the villages it is different. There due to restrictions about the two sexes mixing before marriage it is hard for people to strike up a romantic relationship, and kidnapping without prior consent is often the norm. A friend's brother kidnapped a bride for himself recently, having never spoken to her once, in a village near Jalal-Abad. A group of friends got a car, and abducted her in the street, taking her to his home. Her parents went to my friend's house and, deciding they were a good family, agreed to the match. The two of them then had sex, immediately after which people go into the room and check the girl's virginity - if she turns out not to be a virgin, she is likely to be rejected in shame. If the parents to do not want the match they can take her home, which is not uncommon but which does mean her reputation may be tinted. As a something of a postscript, the two in question are apparently doing well together and seem to get on and like each other's company.
Regarding the legality of the tradition, it is almost inconceivable that a prosecution would be brought in rural areas, where the tradition is strong- "It's her fate", Kyrgyz men often say about their abducted sisters. It would be interesting however to know if attempts have been made to prosecute in the cities.
I can't think of any academic articles about the issue, but the British women's magazine Marie Claire (spell?) did a central feature on it earlier this year with anecdotal evidence and interviews, which takes a somewhat anti-kidnapping leaning.
Date: Wed, 5 Nov 1997 09:34:51 -0500
I came across an interesting instance of "bride-snatching" while staying in southern Kazakstan in 1991. During my stay, I spent some time with a handsome young couple who appeared to be very happily married. Both had higher education: the husband was an engineer, and his wife a financial employee of a bank. At one point when I was alone with the wife I asked, by way of making conversation, how she had met her husband. She giggled and said, "He kidnapped me" (pokhitil). The husband was from Shymkent, the wife from Taldy-Kurgan, towns that are hundreds of miles apart. She had seen him somewhere in a group, but he had never expressed open interest in her. The next thing she knew, friends of hers (acting secretly on behalf of the young man) had driven her to Shymkent on some pretext, where the young man proceeded to "kidnap" her, and they were subsequently married. I asked whether she had objected to this: she answered by telling me that her parents had been concerned because Shymkent is "so close to Uzbekistan" and they had worried that she might fall into some fundamentalist net and lose her modern freedoms. However, she said, her in-laws had proved to be very liberal and she got along with them well. No doubt other "kidnappings" do not produce such happy outcomes but in this case there seems little doubt that the operation was successful for all concerned.
Date: Thu, 6 Nov 1997 12:36:47 -0500
I'm forwarding the following on behalf of Colleen Clark, who wished to forward it on behalf of John Clark.
Greetings and best wishes to all,
I didn't have a chance to reply immediately because of other business, but here's what I've heard.
The sister of a student at KAF was 'snatched' several years ago (at least 6 to 10). She was not the least bit happy about it, and when they put her in a locked room to hold her while the ceremony f feast were being prepared, she wrecked everything in the room that she could, broke windows, furniture, a TV. She was married anyway and taken against her will. She tried to run away several times, more than once to her own family, but her mother, citing the shamefulness of the situation, refused to take her in. Our student argued with her mother (she was then a teen-ager) but the mother wouldn't budge. Other times she was captured by her husband's relatives and returned. She finally escaped to a distant city, found a job, supported herself, eventually got a divorce and married someone of her own choosing.
In a second case, a very young (16) girl, who was well-educated, and very sophisticated (though not rich) caught the eye of a friend of a friend, who was first attracted to her when he saw her picture in a family album at her house. She was out of town at the time. An abduction took place on the streets of Bishkek, and she was taken to a house in a villge outside the city. They also put her in a room while the feast was prepared. Their mistake was that there was a phone in the room. She called her brother f had the presence of mind to be able to describe where she was. Her brothers gathered up some friends, they drove out to the village and confronted the abductors, saying there would be an 'accident' if their sister weren't returned. She was returned.
A 28 year old woman who worked in a presitgious ministry was thought to be getting too old to remain unmarried by her parents. They managed to introduce her to an appropriate man in somewhat formal circumstances, then shortly after, he abducted her. Most think the parents set this up. The resulting marriage seemed affectionate.
Those are the stories of recent date that I know f that I know enough about the sources to be reasonably sure the information is accurate.