There are an estimated 24,000 people living in modern slavery in Kyrgyzstan (GSI 2018). The country remains a source, transit and destination country for men, women and children subjected to forced labour and sex trafficking. Women in the country are often subject to kidnapping and forced marriage, known as Ala kachuu. The act was outlawed in the country in 2013 when authorities recognised it could lead to marital rape, domestic violence and psychological trauma. However, in some communities the practice remains common.
Aisuluu experienced Ala kachuu (bride kidnapping) when she was seventeen years old. She was held in a house by her kidnappers for two months before she was forcibly married and experience violence for a further two years. Aisuluu tells of the difficulties of surviving bride kidnapping and being treated as a second-class citizen.
I never said ‘yes.’
I was kidnapped when I was 17. 25 years have passed since that nightmare happened to me. Being a victim of ‘Ala Kachuu’ runined my life. I can’t forgive all those people who took part in that crime. Including my parents.
It was not only physical violence, also psychological. I left that place [the house of the kidnappers] after two months. But I continued to experience violence for two more years.
For many years I have been silent because I was blaming myself for it. Many people in my life blamed me, so I also blamed myself.
It’s so easy to become a victim of bride kidnapping in Kyrgyzstan, any girl, any time can become a victim.
Most people consider it a tradition, but Ala Kachuu is a crime, in which many people are involved. Including those closest to you.
Currently I am an international trainer for a big global business programme. I help women to become financially independent and start their own businesses. The most successful people are the ones who help others become successful.
For me, as a person who has survived such a crime, as a victim, it is not easy to describe what I experienced and what I went through.
You will never be a victim of bride kidnapping in the past. It stays with you for the rest of your life.
Do you know how hard it is to live after it?
Even after you left that house of the kidnappers: to live with this stigma for life, […] How do victims of bride kidnapping live after a divorce? They are treated like second-class people, including by close relatives. In their view, the girls that survive the abduction do not have the moral right to marry an unmarried guy. A man (…) must also be divorced so that they are on equal conditions, so as not to ´infringe upon´ his rights. At the same time, a man who kidnapped a girl can steal other girls again and again. The law does not work.
I never said ‘yes.’
I made lots of efforts to become successful, and I managed. But the question is, at what price? ... I am one of the thousands of victims, but there are just a few of us, who could resist and won this fight.
Narrative produced by and all credit to UNICEF
Original Narrative can be found here