In a rather tragic development, a 27-year-old Kyrgyzstan woman, Aizada Kanatbekova, was found dead days after she had been abducted for marriage ‘musengabere’.
Aizada Kanatbekova was kidnapped on the 5th of April and two days later, she was found dead, strangled in a car in a rural area.
Her suspected murderer was also found dead allegedly from knife wounds that are believed to have been self-inflicted.
According to Aljazeera, the kidnapping was caught on camera with the car model and the car’s number plates clearly visible. The suspected murderer’s suspected accomplice has since been detained.
Kanatbekova’s death triggered bride kidnapping protests at Kyrgyzstan interior ministry offices on Thursday. Hundreds of demonstrators rallied in front of Kyrgyzstan’s interior ministry and called for senior interior ministry officials to resign over alleged police inaction over Kanatbekova’s abduction and murder.
Following the pressure from demonstrators, Prime Minister Ulugbek Maripov addressed the crowd and asked people to give police time to investigate the crime.
President Sadyr Japarov in a statement also said the culprits would be punished, calling Kanatbekova’s death a “tragedy”.
Bride kidnapping remains widespread in the former Soviet republic despite official pledges to end the practice.
The practice involves a potential groom forcibly taking a young woman or girl back to his home before pressuring her to agree to marriage by writing a letter of consent.
Bride kidnapping or ‘musengabere’ as it is commonly known used to be a common practice in Zimbabwe.
Musengabere is an old traditional marriage practice that involved the ‘abduction’ of the girl. Pre-colonial traditions allowed a man to identify the woman of his choice.
The man would target the as she goes to the river to fetch water or firewood in the forest. He would then ‘kidnap’ the woman.
After the ‘kidnapping’, the marriage process starts. Just like ‘kuganha’ which is another Shona traditional form of marriage, the woman was encouraged to accept her husband.
In this day and age, ‘Musungabere’ is no longer permissible. It is now considered a criminal offense and can attract a jail sentence.