Bride Kidnapping
Bride Kidnapping in Kyrgyzstan

Petr Lom / Canada & Kyrgyzstan / 2004 / 51 min / Kyrgyz

When a Kyrgyz man decides to marry, tradition prescribes that he should abduct the woman of his choice. Followers of this tradition stake out the bride-to-be's movements, snatch her off the street, and take her to their family home in a car. The abducted woman is held until someone from her family arrives to decide whether they will accept the 'proposal'. This film follows such abductions, from the violent capture on city streets and the tearful protests of the women, who are physically restrained and talked into accepting their fate by the women of the groom's family, to the often tense negotiations between the respective families, and either the eventual acquiescence or continued refusal of the young women. Subsequent interviews with the brides, their own families and their in-laws' reveal both the deep cultural roots of the tradition and the growing rejection of it in a rapidly modernizing society. Although bride kidnapping has been illegal in Kyrgyzstan since 1994, the law is rarely enforced, and one in three rural ethnic Kyrgyz women have been forced into such marriages. An illuminating look at the power and relevance of social customs, which raises provocative questions about the nature of love and marriage.

producer | Petr Lom
camera | Petr Lom
editor | Michael H. Amundson, Anatoly Sivoha, Petr Lom
sound | Petr Lom
music | Rosa Amanova