Chechnya Says It Will End Bride Kidnapping

Being a woman can be a primitive experience in Chechnya, since she might be snatched off the street by a man who wants to possess her. Yep, a man can kidnap a woman he wants to “marry” (so romantic!), then her family has to negotiate through an imam about the terms of how he gets to keep her.

Usually a kidnapping occurs when the woman has already refused the man’s proposal. Whatever happened to No Means No?

Islam happened.

Chechen Head Says Bridenapping Must Stop, NTD-TV, October 19, 2010

Bride kidnapping: an old tradition in Chechnya.

Men often decide to steal a girl if she refuses to marry him, or if her family objects to the union.

The bride napping was often followed by negotiations between the bride’s and groom’s families, facilitated by a local imam, or religious leader.

But from now on, imams will face punishment if they get involved.

Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov vowed Sunday to eradicate the centuries-old practice.

[Ramzan Kadyrov, Leader of Chechen Republic]:
“This is the territory of the Russian Federation in which laws make kidnapping a crime. We follow Islam, the religion which condemns such practices and does not recognize marriage without a woman’s consent. I want to tell you with full responsibility that we will once and for all eradicate bride kidnapping from our society.”

Bride-stealing can also lead to blood feuds.

Last year four people were killed during a kidnapping, including a bride, after members of her family chased the kidnapper’s car.

Of course, the woman who is kidnapped has no say whatsoever, as described by a western documentary filmmaker:

Can Chechen President Kadyrov stamp out bride-stealing?, BBC, by Lucy Ash, October 8, 2010

While I was there, Zulikhan, a 22-year-old student, was grabbed off the street on her way home from college by a man she barely knew. A week later, wearing a high-necked wedding dress and a mournful expression, she was married to Bogdan, her kidnapper.

I was present during most of the tense negotiations between her grandfather and representatives from the groom’s family.

It became increasingly clear that Zulikhan would have no say in the matter. Her future was decided by a roomful of elderly men and a young mullah who, it later emerged, had stolen his own wife.

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