Besides documenting our epic roadtrip from London to Mongolia, this website also serves as a platform to showcase interesting local cultures along route. First off, the tradition of Bride Kidnapping in Central Asia.
Ala kachuu (Kyrgyz: ала качуу) is a form of bride kidnapping still practised in Kyrgyzstan. The term can apply to a variety of actions, ranging from a consensual elopement to a non-consensual kidnapping, and to what extent it actually happens is controversial. Some sources suggest that currently at least a third of Kyrgyzstan’s brides are taken against their will.
Kyz ala kachuu (Kyrgyz: кыз ала качуу) means “to take a young woman and run away”. The typical non-consensual variety involves the young man abducting a woman either by force or by guile, often accompanied by friends or male relatives. They take her to his family home, where she is kept in a room until the man’s female relatives convince her to put on the scarf of a married woman as a sign of acceptance. Sometimes, if the woman resists the persuasion and maintains her wish to return home, her relatives try to convince her to agree to the marriage.
The practice was allegedly suppressed during the Soviet period, but, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, ala kachuu began to resurface. There are conflicting reports on whether it continues in the original way or not. Some sources state that the practice was originally a form of elopement, not a bride theft. Sometimes the kidnapping may be just a wedding formality, where the woman comes along willingly. Some people even consider it an honour to be kidnapped because it demonstrates that the woman is worthy of being a wife.
Although bride-kidnapping is illegal in Kyrgyzstan, the government has been accused of not taking proper steps to protect women from this practice.