24,000 'stolen' brides in Kyrgyzstan in three years

24,000 'stolen' brides in Kyrgyzstan in three years

Around 24,000 women were kidnapped and forced into marriage in the former Soviet republic of Kyrgyzstan in the past three years, an official report said.

The country's ombudsman said in his annual report to the Kyrgyz parliament that two-thirds of such marriages later fell apart, according to the Knews.kg website.

The ombudsman's office managed to prevent seven forced marriages in the first three months of 2012.

Last year, acting president Rosa Otunbayeva said 15,000 women are kidnapped and forced into a marriage every year, with many of them later committing suicide.

Kyrgyzstan last year observed a national anti-bride-stealing month in November.
About 20 percent of all marriages in Kyrgyzstan are forced, according to rights activist Alexandra Yefrenko.

Most marriages of the sort are sealed by Islamist clerics, not civil registrars, she said.
The parliament has pushed in recent months to make civil registration mandatory for cleric-sanctioned matrimonial unions, effectively outlawing forced marriages. However, the bill was declined in January.

Legislator Asiya Sasykbayeva said at the time that her colleagues were looking to protect polygamy, an Islamic tradition formally banned but defacto present in Kyrgyzstan, EurasiaNet website reported. Many lawmakers have several wives, she said.

With a population of around 5.5 million, Kyrgyzstan has Islam and Russian Orthodox Christianity as its major religions.

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