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  A group of young boys on their way to the double wedding of two girls kidnapped by two brothers. Issyk-Kul Oblast, Kyrgyzstan.

A group of young boys on their way to the double wedding of two girls kidnapped by two brothers. Issyk-Kul Oblast, Kyrgyzstan.

  

 

  A gift of a sheep which forms part of a bride price, ‘kalym’. Sheep, cattle or a horse, along with money, clothes, vodka and sweets are given to a bride’s family by the family of the groom in thanks for raising and educating her. After marriage a bride is considered to belong to her husband’s family.   Issyk-Kul Oblast, Kyrgyzstan.

A gift of a sheep which forms part of a bride price, ‘kalym’. Sheep, cattle or a horse, along with money, clothes, vodka and sweets are given to a bride’s family by the family of the groom in thanks for raising and educating her. After marriage a bride is considered to belong to her husband’s family. Issyk-Kul Oblast, Kyrgyzstan.

  A visitor gives a headscarf to Aizat, a newly kidnapped bride, abducted just three days ago by a stranger. Guests travel to see her and celebrate with the groom’s family who have slaughtered an animal for a feast which can last up to a month. Issyk-Kul Oblast, Kyrgyzstan.    

A visitor gives a headscarf to Aizat, a newly kidnapped bride, abducted just three days ago by a stranger. Guests travel to see her and celebrate with the groom’s family who have slaughtered an animal for a feast which can last up to a month. Issyk-Kul Oblast, Kyrgyzstan.

 

  Guests give thanks for a wedding feast at a house where a girl was kidnapped three days previously. After a wedding the family of the groom open their doors to friends and neighbours to visit and admire the new daughter-in-law. An animal is slaughtered and celebrating can last up to a month. Issyk-Kul Oblast, Kyrgyzstan.

Guests give thanks for a wedding feast at a house where a girl was kidnapped three days previously. After a wedding the family of the groom open their doors to friends and neighbours to visit and admire the new daughter-in-law. An animal is slaughtered and celebrating can last up to a month. Issyk-Kul Oblast, Kyrgyzstan.

  Bekzat and Azat, two brothers marry their kidnapped brides (Ainura and Aigul).  Although Aigul had been dating Bekzat, Ainura barely knew Azat. Usually a kidnap is marked only by a Muslim ceremony in the home however this family are also having a wedding party at a local restaurant where they have invited an official to register the marriage. Kidnapped marriages are rarely officially registered which leaves the bride without rights to property or children. Issyk-Kul Oblast, Kyrgyzstan.

Bekzat and Azat, two brothers marry their kidnapped brides (Ainura and Aigul).  Although Aigul had been dating Bekzat, Ainura barely knew Azat. Usually a kidnap is marked only by a Muslim ceremony in the home however this family are also having a wedding party at a local restaurant where they have invited an official to register the marriage. Kidnapped marriages are rarely officially registered which leaves the bride without rights to property or children. Issyk-Kul Oblast, Kyrgyzstan.

  A portrait of Ainura wearing a marriage scarf. Ainura   was kidnapped and married three days previously to a man she barely knew. Issyk-Kul Oblast, Kyrgyzstan.

A portrait of Ainura wearing a marriage scarf. Ainura was kidnapped and married three days previously to a man she barely knew. Issyk-Kul Oblast, Kyrgyzstan.

 A portrait of Aigul and Bekzat three days after her kidnap.  Although Bekzat kidnapped Aigul under pressure from his father to get married he claims they had been dating. Parental pressure plays a large part in the kidnapping process either through honouring the family tradition or through desire for a daughter in law. Issyk-Kul Oblast, Kyrgyzstan.

A portrait of Aigul and Bekzat three days after her kidnap. Although Bekzat kidnapped Aigul under pressure from his father to get married he claims they had been dating. Parental pressure plays a large part in the kidnapping process either through honouring the family tradition or through desire for a daughter in law. Issyk-Kul Oblast, Kyrgyzstan.

 A portrait of Artyak and Sofia. Sofia who had once previously evaded kidnap, was not so lucky with Artyak who decided to kidnap her even though he knew she was already engaged to be married, this status offering her no protection.  Issyk-Kul Oblast, Kyrgyzstan.

A portrait of Artyak and Sofia. Sofia who had once previously evaded kidnap, was not so lucky with Artyak who decided to kidnap her even though he knew she was already engaged to be married, this status offering her no protection. Issyk-Kul Oblast, Kyrgyzstan.

 Aizat and Murat three days after the kidnap and forced marriage of Aizat. She resisted marriage to Murat, a stranger, for as long as possible but was finally persuaded by Murat’s grandmother who, at 82, commands great respect according to Kyrgyz customs. During a kidnap, elders are often summoned in order to influence the bride to stay.  Issyk-Kul  Oblast, Kyrgyzstan.

Aizat and Murat three days after the kidnap and forced marriage of Aizat. She resisted marriage to Murat, a stranger, for as long as possible but was finally persuaded by Murat’s grandmother who, at 82, commands great respect according to Kyrgyz customs. During a kidnap, elders are often summoned in order to influence the bride to stay. Issyk-Kul Oblast, Kyrgyzstan.

  A portrait of a young woman who escaped kidnap and enforced marriage because of the bravery of her aunt who rescued her from her kidnappers, a powerful family with police affiliations. She dropped the case   against them after receiving threatening phone calls and because of the potential scandal it would create for her family.  Having spent the night in a kidnapper’s house, her virginity would be in question and her family’s reputation ruined, along with her future marriage prospects.  Kidnapped brides and their families rarely prosecute because corruption is rife in the justice system and the police are commonly paid off by the kidnapper and his family. Issk-Kul Oblast, Kyrgyzstan.

A portrait of a young woman who escaped kidnap and enforced marriage because of the bravery of her aunt who rescued her from her kidnappers, a powerful family with police affiliations. She dropped the case against them after receiving threatening phone calls and because of the potential scandal it would create for her family.  Having spent the night in a kidnapper’s house, her virginity would be in question and her family’s reputation ruined, along with her future marriage prospects.  Kidnapped brides and their families rarely prosecute because corruption is rife in the justice system and the police are commonly paid off by the kidnapper and his family. Issk-Kul Oblast, Kyrgyzstan.

  A portrait of a woman kidnapped 13 years ago. She was kidnapped by a stranger at 18 and was forced to marry him. The kidnap deeply affected her; she was not psychologically or physically prepared for marriage and she has been in a state of shock ever since.   Despite having two children by him she feels no love for her husband  She has considered leaving countless times but being a conservative Kyrgyz woman she fears judgement by those around her. Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.

A portrait of a woman kidnapped 13 years ago. She was kidnapped by a stranger at 18 and was forced to marry him. The kidnap deeply affected her; she was not psychologically or physically prepared for marriage and she has been in a state of shock ever since. Despite having two children by him she feels no love for her husband  She has considered leaving countless times but being a conservative Kyrgyz woman she fears judgement by those around her. Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.

 A portrait of Zoya, whose daughter Ainura was kidnapped the previous night from this room by four men. Although devastated at the loss of her daughter, Zoya, a widower, subsequently gave in to pressure from neighbours and relatives to accept the kidnap as a Kyrgyz tradition.  Often the decision to leave a daughter with her kidnapper will be an economic one.  After marriage a bride is considered to belong to her husband’s family, who will pay for her education and look after all her needs. According to tradition, Zoya would also receive gifts of money and livestock from her future son in law’s family as a way of making peace  .   Issyk-Kul Oblast, Kyrgyzstan.

A portrait of Zoya, whose daughter Ainura was kidnapped the previous night from this room by four men. Although devastated at the loss of her daughter, Zoya, a widower, subsequently gave in to pressure from neighbours and relatives to accept the kidnap as a Kyrgyz tradition. Often the decision to leave a daughter with her kidnapper will be an economic one.  After marriage a bride is considered to belong to her husband’s family, who will pay for her education and look after all her needs. According to tradition, Zoya would also receive gifts of money and livestock from her future son in law’s family as a way of making peaceIssyk-Kul Oblast, Kyrgyzstan.

 Bermet was kidnapped by a boy whose advances she had rejected. Although she attempted escape more than once, the women in her husband’s family broke her resolve and she was forced to marry him.  He quickly became violent and after two months she escaped. Her chances of remarrying are better because she was never made pregnant by Ermet. Issk-Kul Oblast, Kyrgyzstan.

Bermet was kidnapped by a boy whose advances she had rejected. Although she attempted escape more than once, the women in her husband’s family broke her resolve and she was forced to marry him. He quickly became violent and after two months she escaped. Her chances of remarrying are better because she was never made pregnant by Ermet. Issk-Kul Oblast, Kyrgyzstan.

  Sophia in a kitchen with her new mother-in-law. Sophia was kidnapped once before and escaped but was forced to stay after the second attempt. As the newest daughter-in-law she takes on the lowest position in the family and must do all the domestic chores. Issyk-Kul Oblast, Kyrgyzstan.

Sophia in a kitchen with her new mother-in-law. Sophia was kidnapped once before and escaped but was forced to stay after the second attempt. As the newest daughter-in-law she takes on the lowest position in the family and must do all the domestic chores. Issyk-Kul Oblast, Kyrgyzstan.

 Mother and daughter Ainakan and Aisada, were both kidnapped for marriage.  While Ainakan’s marriage lasted for 19 years until her husband’s death in 1996, Aisada, her own daughter, escaped and eloped with her real boyfriend only three days after she was kidnapped.  This marriage lasted only two years. Aisada believes that the consequential shame and question over her virginity following her escape eventually drove her husband away. In Muslim Kyrgyzstan, where virginity is revered, a girl who has been kidnapped and then leaves is considered to be tainted. Issyk-Kul Oblast, Kyrgyzstan.

Mother and daughter Ainakan and Aisada, were both kidnapped for marriage.  While Ainakan’s marriage lasted for 19 years until her husband’s death in 1996, Aisada, her own daughter, escaped and eloped with her real boyfriend only three days after she was kidnapped. This marriage lasted only two years. Aisada believes that the consequential shame and question over her virginity following her escape eventually drove her husband away. In Muslim Kyrgyzstan, where virginity is revered, a girl who has been kidnapped and then leaves is considered to be tainted. Issyk-Kul Oblast, Kyrgyzstan.

 Aizada was kidnapped at 17 by a stranger. She has two children by him, Doolotbai and Bermet. They no longer live together and he threatens her with violence almost daily. His family want him to find another wife because Aizada suffers from a heart condition. Because kidnapped marriages are rarely registered, the bride has almost no rights to property or children.  Issyk-Kul  Oblast,  Kyrgyzstan.

Aizada was kidnapped at 17 by a stranger. She has two children by him, Doolotbai and Bermet. They no longer live together and he threatens her with violence almost daily. His family want him to find another wife because Aizada suffers from a heart condition. Because kidnapped marriages are rarely registered, the bride has almost no rights to property or children. Issyk-Kul Oblast, Kyrgyzstan.

  Omurbai and Meerkan on the third day of hosting over 160 guests in their house to visit their new daughter-in-law who was recently kidnapped by their son. Omurbai has just returned from visiting the girl’s family to beg forgiveness for the kidnap and to offer gifts as way of compensation. He was welcomed in and the two families celebrated. As a young man Omurbai also kidnapped Meerkan who was from his village. Issyk-Kul Oblast, Kyrgyzstan.

Omurbai and Meerkan on the third day of hosting over 160 guests in their house to visit their new daughter-in-law who was recently kidnapped by their son. Omurbai has just returned from visiting the girl’s family to beg forgiveness for the kidnap and to offer gifts as way of compensation. He was welcomed in and the two families celebrated. As a young man Omurbai also kidnapped Meerkan who was from his village. Issyk-Kul Oblast, Kyrgyzstan.

 Erlan and Zela  had been dating for a year previous to her kidnap by him. With the price of weddings remaining expensive, a kidnapped wedding is sometimes considered to be a cheaper option for the boy’s family who traditionally pay for the wedding. Issk-Kul Oblast, Kyrgyzstan.

Erlan and Zela had been dating for a year previous to her kidnap by him. With the price of weddings remaining expensive, a kidnapped wedding is sometimes considered to be a cheaper option for the boy’s family who traditionally pay for the wedding. Issk-Kul Oblast, Kyrgyzstan.

 A married couple walk in a park in Bishkek. Whilst both living and working in neighbouring Kazakhstan she was kidnapped for marriage by a Kazakh man. Although she eventually escaped back to Kyrgyzstan with her current husband, the couple maintain their anonymity to protect his family. In Muslim Kyrgyzstan, where virginity is revered, a girl who has been kidnapped and then leaves is considered to be tainted. Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.

A married couple walk in a park in Bishkek. Whilst both living and working in neighbouring Kazakhstan she was kidnapped for marriage by a Kazakh man. Although she eventually escaped back to Kyrgyzstan with her current husband, the couple maintain their anonymity to protect his family. In Muslim Kyrgyzstan, where virginity is revered, a girl who has been kidnapped and then leaves is considered to be tainted. Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.

 A portrait of Nairbeck and Gulaim who have been happily married for 38 years. Nairbeck kidnapped Gulaim as a bride while she was studying in university. Gulaim’s parents encouraged her to accept the betrothal as Nairbeck was from a good family. Gulaim never finished her studies.  Issyk-Kul Oblast, Kyrgyzstan.

A portrait of Nairbeck and Gulaim who have been happily married for 38 years. Nairbeck kidnapped Gulaim as a bride while she was studying in university. Gulaim’s parents encouraged her to accept the betrothal as Nairbeck was from a good family. Gulaim never finished her studies. Issyk-Kul Oblast, Kyrgyzstan.

  Bekbosun and Bubakan on their 60th wedding anniversary surrounded by their family. Bubakan was kidnapped by Bekbosun on horseback on his 20th birthday as part of the Kyrgyz tradition of bride stealing. Issyk-Kul Oblast, Kyrgyzstan. 

Bekbosun and Bubakan on their 60th wedding anniversary surrounded by their family. Bubakan was kidnapped by Bekbosun on horseback on his 20th birthday as part of the Kyrgyz tradition of bride stealing. Issyk-Kul Oblast, Kyrgyzstan. 

  An upper class wedding in the capital Bishkek. The increasing expense of modern weddings is often cited as a reason for kidnapping. The traditional Kyrgyz wedding involving many rituals each accompanied by the exchange of expensive gifts and generous hospitality has been made dearer by the Western additions of a white dress, a photographer and a smart car. Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.

An upper class wedding in the capital Bishkek. The increasing expense of modern weddings is often cited as a reason for kidnapping. The traditional Kyrgyz wedding involving many rituals each accompanied by the exchange of expensive gifts and generous hospitality has been made dearer by the Western additions of a white dress, a photographer and a smart car. Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.

  Newlyweds who have not been married through kidnapping pose for photographs on Victory Square. The custom of releasing doves comes from Russia. Kyrgyz marriage rituals mix Russian and Western influences with their own nomadic and shamanistic practises. Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.

Newlyweds who have not been married through kidnapping pose for photographs on Victory Square. The custom of releasing doves comes from Russia. Kyrgyz marriage rituals mix Russian and Western influences with their own nomadic and shamanistic practises. Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.

  A young girl in the village of Tiup. Girls in rural areas are particularly vulnerable to kidnap. For their protection parents often chose to send them to study in the capital Bishkek during their college and university years. Issyk-Kul Oblast, Kyrgyzstan. 

A young girl in the village of Tiup. Girls in rural areas are particularly vulnerable to kidnap. For their protection parents often chose to send them to study in the capital Bishkek during their college and university years. Issyk-Kul Oblast, Kyrgyzstan. 

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A group of young boys on their way to the double wedding of two girls kidnapped by two brothers. Issyk-Kul Oblast, Kyrgyzstan.

 

A gift of a sheep which forms part of a bride price, ‘kalym’. Sheep, cattle or a horse, along with money, clothes, vodka and sweets are given to a bride’s family by the family of the groom in thanks for raising and educating her. After marriage a bride is considered to belong to her husband’s family. Issyk-Kul Oblast, Kyrgyzstan.

A visitor gives a headscarf to Aizat, a newly kidnapped bride, abducted just three days ago by a stranger. Guests travel to see her and celebrate with the groom’s family who have slaughtered an animal for a feast which can last up to a month. Issyk-Kul Oblast, Kyrgyzstan.

 

Guests give thanks for a wedding feast at a house where a girl was kidnapped three days previously. After a wedding the family of the groom open their doors to friends and neighbours to visit and admire the new daughter-in-law. An animal is slaughtered and celebrating can last up to a month. Issyk-Kul Oblast, Kyrgyzstan.

Bekzat and Azat, two brothers marry their kidnapped brides (Ainura and Aigul).  Although Aigul had been dating Bekzat, Ainura barely knew Azat. Usually a kidnap is marked only by a Muslim ceremony in the home however this family are also having a wedding party at a local restaurant where they have invited an official to register the marriage. Kidnapped marriages are rarely officially registered which leaves the bride without rights to property or children. Issyk-Kul Oblast, Kyrgyzstan.

A portrait of Ainura wearing a marriage scarf. Ainura was kidnapped and married three days previously to a man she barely knew. Issyk-Kul Oblast, Kyrgyzstan.

A portrait of Aigul and Bekzat three days after her kidnap. Although Bekzat kidnapped Aigul under pressure from his father to get married he claims they had been dating. Parental pressure plays a large part in the kidnapping process either through honouring the family tradition or through desire for a daughter in law. Issyk-Kul Oblast, Kyrgyzstan.

A portrait of Artyak and Sofia. Sofia who had once previously evaded kidnap, was not so lucky with Artyak who decided to kidnap her even though he knew she was already engaged to be married, this status offering her no protection. Issyk-Kul Oblast, Kyrgyzstan.

Aizat and Murat three days after the kidnap and forced marriage of Aizat. She resisted marriage to Murat, a stranger, for as long as possible but was finally persuaded by Murat’s grandmother who, at 82, commands great respect according to Kyrgyz customs. During a kidnap, elders are often summoned in order to influence the bride to stay. Issyk-Kul Oblast, Kyrgyzstan.

A portrait of a young woman who escaped kidnap and enforced marriage because of the bravery of her aunt who rescued her from her kidnappers, a powerful family with police affiliations. She dropped the case against them after receiving threatening phone calls and because of the potential scandal it would create for her family.  Having spent the night in a kidnapper’s house, her virginity would be in question and her family’s reputation ruined, along with her future marriage prospects.  Kidnapped brides and their families rarely prosecute because corruption is rife in the justice system and the police are commonly paid off by the kidnapper and his family. Issk-Kul Oblast, Kyrgyzstan.

A portrait of a woman kidnapped 13 years ago. She was kidnapped by a stranger at 18 and was forced to marry him. The kidnap deeply affected her; she was not psychologically or physically prepared for marriage and she has been in a state of shock ever since. Despite having two children by him she feels no love for her husband  She has considered leaving countless times but being a conservative Kyrgyz woman she fears judgement by those around her. Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.

A portrait of Zoya, whose daughter Ainura was kidnapped the previous night from this room by four men. Although devastated at the loss of her daughter, Zoya, a widower, subsequently gave in to pressure from neighbours and relatives to accept the kidnap as a Kyrgyz tradition. Often the decision to leave a daughter with her kidnapper will be an economic one.  After marriage a bride is considered to belong to her husband’s family, who will pay for her education and look after all her needs. According to tradition, Zoya would also receive gifts of money and livestock from her future son in law’s family as a way of making peaceIssyk-Kul Oblast, Kyrgyzstan.

Bermet was kidnapped by a boy whose advances she had rejected. Although she attempted escape more than once, the women in her husband’s family broke her resolve and she was forced to marry him. He quickly became violent and after two months she escaped. Her chances of remarrying are better because she was never made pregnant by Ermet. Issk-Kul Oblast, Kyrgyzstan.

Sophia in a kitchen with her new mother-in-law. Sophia was kidnapped once before and escaped but was forced to stay after the second attempt. As the newest daughter-in-law she takes on the lowest position in the family and must do all the domestic chores. Issyk-Kul Oblast, Kyrgyzstan.

Mother and daughter Ainakan and Aisada, were both kidnapped for marriage.  While Ainakan’s marriage lasted for 19 years until her husband’s death in 1996, Aisada, her own daughter, escaped and eloped with her real boyfriend only three days after she was kidnapped. This marriage lasted only two years. Aisada believes that the consequential shame and question over her virginity following her escape eventually drove her husband away. In Muslim Kyrgyzstan, where virginity is revered, a girl who has been kidnapped and then leaves is considered to be tainted. Issyk-Kul Oblast, Kyrgyzstan.

Aizada was kidnapped at 17 by a stranger. She has two children by him, Doolotbai and Bermet. They no longer live together and he threatens her with violence almost daily. His family want him to find another wife because Aizada suffers from a heart condition. Because kidnapped marriages are rarely registered, the bride has almost no rights to property or children. Issyk-Kul Oblast, Kyrgyzstan.

Omurbai and Meerkan on the third day of hosting over 160 guests in their house to visit their new daughter-in-law who was recently kidnapped by their son. Omurbai has just returned from visiting the girl’s family to beg forgiveness for the kidnap and to offer gifts as way of compensation. He was welcomed in and the two families celebrated. As a young man Omurbai also kidnapped Meerkan who was from his village. Issyk-Kul Oblast, Kyrgyzstan.

Erlan and Zela had been dating for a year previous to her kidnap by him. With the price of weddings remaining expensive, a kidnapped wedding is sometimes considered to be a cheaper option for the boy’s family who traditionally pay for the wedding. Issk-Kul Oblast, Kyrgyzstan.

A married couple walk in a park in Bishkek. Whilst both living and working in neighbouring Kazakhstan she was kidnapped for marriage by a Kazakh man. Although she eventually escaped back to Kyrgyzstan with her current husband, the couple maintain their anonymity to protect his family. In Muslim Kyrgyzstan, where virginity is revered, a girl who has been kidnapped and then leaves is considered to be tainted. Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.

A portrait of Nairbeck and Gulaim who have been happily married for 38 years. Nairbeck kidnapped Gulaim as a bride while she was studying in university. Gulaim’s parents encouraged her to accept the betrothal as Nairbeck was from a good family. Gulaim never finished her studies. Issyk-Kul Oblast, Kyrgyzstan.

Bekbosun and Bubakan on their 60th wedding anniversary surrounded by their family. Bubakan was kidnapped by Bekbosun on horseback on his 20th birthday as part of the Kyrgyz tradition of bride stealing. Issyk-Kul Oblast, Kyrgyzstan. 

An upper class wedding in the capital Bishkek. The increasing expense of modern weddings is often cited as a reason for kidnapping. The traditional Kyrgyz wedding involving many rituals each accompanied by the exchange of expensive gifts and generous hospitality has been made dearer by the Western additions of a white dress, a photographer and a smart car. Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.

Newlyweds who have not been married through kidnapping pose for photographs on Victory Square. The custom of releasing doves comes from Russia. Kyrgyz marriage rituals mix Russian and Western influences with their own nomadic and shamanistic practises. Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.

A young girl in the village of Tiup. Girls in rural areas are particularly vulnerable to kidnap. For their protection parents often chose to send them to study in the capital Bishkek during their college and university years. Issyk-Kul Oblast, Kyrgyzstan. 

  A group of young boys on their way to the double wedding of two girls kidnapped by two brothers. Issyk-Kul Oblast, Kyrgyzstan.
  
  A gift of a sheep which forms part of a bride price, ‘kalym’. Sheep, cattle or a horse, along with money, clothes, vodka and sweets are given to a bride’s family by the family of the groom in thanks for raising and educating her. After marriage a bride is considered to belong to her husband’s family.   Issyk-Kul Oblast, Kyrgyzstan.
  A visitor gives a headscarf to Aizat, a newly kidnapped bride, abducted just three days ago by a stranger. Guests travel to see her and celebrate with the groom’s family who have slaughtered an animal for a feast which can last up to a month. Issyk-Kul Oblast, Kyrgyzstan.    
  Guests give thanks for a wedding feast at a house where a girl was kidnapped three days previously. After a wedding the family of the groom open their doors to friends and neighbours to visit and admire the new daughter-in-law. An animal is slaughtered and celebrating can last up to a month. Issyk-Kul Oblast, Kyrgyzstan.
  Bekzat and Azat, two brothers marry their kidnapped brides (Ainura and Aigul).  Although Aigul had been dating Bekzat, Ainura barely knew Azat. Usually a kidnap is marked only by a Muslim ceremony in the home however this family are also having a wedding party at a local restaurant where they have invited an official to register the marriage. Kidnapped marriages are rarely officially registered which leaves the bride without rights to property or children. Issyk-Kul Oblast, Kyrgyzstan.
  A portrait of Ainura wearing a marriage scarf. Ainura   was kidnapped and married three days previously to a man she barely knew. Issyk-Kul Oblast, Kyrgyzstan.
 A portrait of Aigul and Bekzat three days after her kidnap.  Although Bekzat kidnapped Aigul under pressure from his father to get married he claims they had been dating. Parental pressure plays a large part in the kidnapping process either through honouring the family tradition or through desire for a daughter in law. Issyk-Kul Oblast, Kyrgyzstan.
 A portrait of Artyak and Sofia. Sofia who had once previously evaded kidnap, was not so lucky with Artyak who decided to kidnap her even though he knew she was already engaged to be married, this status offering her no protection.  Issyk-Kul Oblast, Kyrgyzstan.
 Aizat and Murat three days after the kidnap and forced marriage of Aizat. She resisted marriage to Murat, a stranger, for as long as possible but was finally persuaded by Murat’s grandmother who, at 82, commands great respect according to Kyrgyz customs. During a kidnap, elders are often summoned in order to influence the bride to stay.  Issyk-Kul  Oblast, Kyrgyzstan.
  A portrait of a young woman who escaped kidnap and enforced marriage because of the bravery of her aunt who rescued her from her kidnappers, a powerful family with police affiliations. She dropped the case   against them after receiving threatening phone calls and because of the potential scandal it would create for her family.  Having spent the night in a kidnapper’s house, her virginity would be in question and her family’s reputation ruined, along with her future marriage prospects.  Kidnapped brides and their families rarely prosecute because corruption is rife in the justice system and the police are commonly paid off by the kidnapper and his family. Issk-Kul Oblast, Kyrgyzstan.
  A portrait of a woman kidnapped 13 years ago. She was kidnapped by a stranger at 18 and was forced to marry him. The kidnap deeply affected her; she was not psychologically or physically prepared for marriage and she has been in a state of shock ever since.   Despite having two children by him she feels no love for her husband  She has considered leaving countless times but being a conservative Kyrgyz woman she fears judgement by those around her. Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.
 A portrait of Zoya, whose daughter Ainura was kidnapped the previous night from this room by four men. Although devastated at the loss of her daughter, Zoya, a widower, subsequently gave in to pressure from neighbours and relatives to accept the kidnap as a Kyrgyz tradition.  Often the decision to leave a daughter with her kidnapper will be an economic one.  After marriage a bride is considered to belong to her husband’s family, who will pay for her education and look after all her needs. According to tradition, Zoya would also receive gifts of money and livestock from her future son in law’s family as a way of making peace  .   Issyk-Kul Oblast, Kyrgyzstan.
 Bermet was kidnapped by a boy whose advances she had rejected. Although she attempted escape more than once, the women in her husband’s family broke her resolve and she was forced to marry him.  He quickly became violent and after two months she escaped. Her chances of remarrying are better because she was never made pregnant by Ermet. Issk-Kul Oblast, Kyrgyzstan.
  Sophia in a kitchen with her new mother-in-law. Sophia was kidnapped once before and escaped but was forced to stay after the second attempt. As the newest daughter-in-law she takes on the lowest position in the family and must do all the domestic chores. Issyk-Kul Oblast, Kyrgyzstan.
 Mother and daughter Ainakan and Aisada, were both kidnapped for marriage.  While Ainakan’s marriage lasted for 19 years until her husband’s death in 1996, Aisada, her own daughter, escaped and eloped with her real boyfriend only three days after she was kidnapped.  This marriage lasted only two years. Aisada believes that the consequential shame and question over her virginity following her escape eventually drove her husband away. In Muslim Kyrgyzstan, where virginity is revered, a girl who has been kidnapped and then leaves is considered to be tainted. Issyk-Kul Oblast, Kyrgyzstan.
 Aizada was kidnapped at 17 by a stranger. She has two children by him, Doolotbai and Bermet. They no longer live together and he threatens her with violence almost daily. His family want him to find another wife because Aizada suffers from a heart condition. Because kidnapped marriages are rarely registered, the bride has almost no rights to property or children.  Issyk-Kul  Oblast,  Kyrgyzstan.
  Omurbai and Meerkan on the third day of hosting over 160 guests in their house to visit their new daughter-in-law who was recently kidnapped by their son. Omurbai has just returned from visiting the girl’s family to beg forgiveness for the kidnap and to offer gifts as way of compensation. He was welcomed in and the two families celebrated. As a young man Omurbai also kidnapped Meerkan who was from his village. Issyk-Kul Oblast, Kyrgyzstan.
 Erlan and Zela  had been dating for a year previous to her kidnap by him. With the price of weddings remaining expensive, a kidnapped wedding is sometimes considered to be a cheaper option for the boy’s family who traditionally pay for the wedding. Issk-Kul Oblast, Kyrgyzstan.
 A married couple walk in a park in Bishkek. Whilst both living and working in neighbouring Kazakhstan she was kidnapped for marriage by a Kazakh man. Although she eventually escaped back to Kyrgyzstan with her current husband, the couple maintain their anonymity to protect his family. In Muslim Kyrgyzstan, where virginity is revered, a girl who has been kidnapped and then leaves is considered to be tainted. Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.
 A portrait of Nairbeck and Gulaim who have been happily married for 38 years. Nairbeck kidnapped Gulaim as a bride while she was studying in university. Gulaim’s parents encouraged her to accept the betrothal as Nairbeck was from a good family. Gulaim never finished her studies.  Issyk-Kul Oblast, Kyrgyzstan.
  Bekbosun and Bubakan on their 60th wedding anniversary surrounded by their family. Bubakan was kidnapped by Bekbosun on horseback on his 20th birthday as part of the Kyrgyz tradition of bride stealing. Issyk-Kul Oblast, Kyrgyzstan. 
  An upper class wedding in the capital Bishkek. The increasing expense of modern weddings is often cited as a reason for kidnapping. The traditional Kyrgyz wedding involving many rituals each accompanied by the exchange of expensive gifts and generous hospitality has been made dearer by the Western additions of a white dress, a photographer and a smart car. Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.
  Newlyweds who have not been married through kidnapping pose for photographs on Victory Square. The custom of releasing doves comes from Russia. Kyrgyz marriage rituals mix Russian and Western influences with their own nomadic and shamanistic practises. Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.
  A young girl in the village of Tiup. Girls in rural areas are particularly vulnerable to kidnap. For their protection parents often chose to send them to study in the capital Bishkek during their college and university years. Issyk-Kul Oblast, Kyrgyzstan. 
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