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Bride kidnapping in Caucasus is often imitated

October 31, 2013, 12:46 UTC+3

In Russia’s southern regions, brides are increasingly being kidnapped at the request of the girls themselves

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In Russia’s southern regions, brides are increasingly being kidnapped at the request of the girls themselves, the Novye Izvestia newspaper writes.

Another bride kidnapping in Ingushetia (Russia’s Caucasian republic) last week ended with a shootout in which three people were killed. On Wednesday, head of the region Yunus-Bek Yevkurov tried to reconcile the quarrelling families. The newspaper has found out that such conflicts do not arise in most cases. Moreover, many kidnappings are initiated by the girls - this is an opportunity for them to marry for love and to avoid costly wedding ceremonies.

Yunus-Bek Yevkurov has officially confirmed that it was because of the bride kidnapping that three people were killed. When the bride’s father, a police major, came to get his daughter out, relatives from the two sides gathered to negotiate. However, the conversation soon turned into a quarrel that ended with shooting.

The bride kidnapping tradition that is common in the North Caucasus contradicts not only Russian laws, but also the norms of Islam, Ismail Agakishiyev, head of the Centre for Caucasus Studies at the Russian University for the Humanities, told the Novye Izvestia newspaper. According to him, Islam prescribes voluntary marriage and only with the parents’ blessing. “From Muslim laws’ viewpoint, bride kidnapping may be regarded as a robbery,” said Imam Shamil Alyautdinov of the Memorial Mosque’s at Poklonnaya Hill in Moscow. Despite this, he said, there is always a mullah, who would agree to marry a couple for remuneration.

Russia’s legislation is of little help to kidnapped brides. Russia's Criminal Code provides for a real jail time for kidnapping, however, “a person who voluntarily releases the kidnapped shall be exempt from criminal liability if he commits no other crime.”

According to Caucasus customs, a kidnapped girl, even if she has spent only a day with her captor is considered to be “dishonoured,” and it will be very problematic for her to get married. That is why in the vast majority of cases, the bride’s relatives comply with the demands of the groom to marry the girl to him.

The bride kidnapping custom is still viable because in many cases it is advantageous not only to the groom, but also to the bride, political analyst and expert in Caucasus studies Andrei Yepifantsev told the newspaper: “To this day, a girl in the Caucasus, if the parents do not allow her to marry that or other young man, cannot disobey. And then the bride arranges with her beloved about kidnapping. Some local customs also force young people to resort to the “kidnapping.” Thus, the younger sister in a family, according to tradition, cannot marry before the elder, and the parents would not bless her marriage. Therefore, the younger sister is “kidnapped.”

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