Saturday, April 30, 2005

Oppression of women in Kyrgyzstan

An image from our mythology (?) of "caveman times" -- you know, the big brute hits the lady in a leopard-skin dress over the head with his club and drags her back to his cave -- apparently lives on, according to this NYT article, which is almost too cruel to believe. According to Kyrgyz tradition, simple arranged marriages would be just too time-consuming. Instead, some men -- and their supportive families -- literally kidnap the women they want to marry, and keep them hidden inside in their house until sunrise, at which point their dignity and honor are supposedly forever in question, and thus, they are obliged to marry their abductors.

This is illegal, but not very enforced, the article says, and many women and men, both young and old, go along with this brutal, fearful, discriminatory and oppressive tradition. Some heart-rending quotes from the story: "Every good marriage begins in tears" is a saying there, and from the mouth of a guy who helped his brother abduct a bride: "Men steal women to show that they are men." A documentary on the topic was also done last year.

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