Ainagul (not her real name) was a vivacious, happy outgoing young women, studying at the State university in Bishkek, the capital city. She was also a strong Christian believer, a committed member of a local Kyrgyz church, singing on the small worship team and actively witnessing to her friends and family of God’s grace and love.
However, one Sunday morning, she didn’t appear and there was no word from her as to what had happened. Her friends were concerned as this was out of character, so they went to her house and asked her parents where she was. What they heard both shocked and saddened their hearts.
Ainagul had been told by a fellow student at the start of the university year that he was going to marry her. She had laughed, as she had no intentions of getting married, especially not to a Muslim boy from the village.
But just 2 months later, she was kidnapped by the young man and his family – taken off the street as she walked home and bundled into their car, driven out to their village and forced into marriage. No-one knows exactly where the village is or what happened – just that she has not been seen by her friends or church since.
Bride-Kidnapping: The widespread cultural practice in Kyrgyzstan, when the young man and his male relatives kidnap a girl from the street or her place of work or study and take her to his home, where his female relatives coerce her to stay and be married. Shame, threats and family pressure convince most girls to accept this as their fate.
In the villages, half of the marriages begin as a kidnapping, and around 50% of those marriages end in divorce, often because of alcohol abuse and violence. Sadly, there are also many reports of girls committing suicide because of the abuse and shame of being kidnapped and raped.
- Pray for victims of bride kidnapping, rape and abuse. And for the perpetrators and their families, to see the harm that it does, rather than being an acceptable part of their culture.
- Pray for those who work supporting victims of bride kidnapping who have escaped the abusive situations. Pray that the love of God will flow with healing to these girls and they will regain both their hope for the future and a true sense of their worth and value.
- Pray for the government of Kyrgyzstan to actively seek to put an end to bride kidnapping.