Steal a Woman By All Means, But Not a Sheep

In Kyrgyzstan, there have only been 20 cases of bridal theft heard in courts this year. In contrast, 1,332 cases of livestock theft were heard.


In Kyrgyzstan, if a man kidnaps a woman to make her his wife, he runs little risk of prosecution. Should he steal sheep, however, there's a good chance he'll go to prison.

In the first eight months of this year, according to statistics provided by the Interior Ministry, criminal proceedings were initiated in 20 cases of bride kidnapping ("ala kachuu") across Kyrgyzstan. By contrast, in the same period Kyrgyz courts heard 1,332 cases of livestock theft. There are no reliable figures, but human rights activists believe thousands of women are kidnapped and forced into marriage each year in Kyrgyzstan. The figure could be as high as 75 percent in some rural areas.