"On television, bride abduction seems far away from one's personal fate. But when it happens in your immediate proximity, it changes how you think. It really got to me," Svetlana remembers. Together the two students managed to dissuade the kidnappers from carrying out their plan.

However, the uncomfortable feeling stayed. "The tragedy of this story is that my roommate actually married her kidnapper a few months later", says Svetlana. Since then, all contact has been lost between the two friends.

There should be no future for bride abduction in Kyrgyzstan. Of that, Svetlana is convinced. With her project "Ala kachuu is no cool!" she has set herself the goal of convincing young people to acknowledge bride abduction for what it really is: a crime.

Kyrgyz students during one of Svetlanaʹs workshops (photo: Svetlana Dzardanova)
Successful education and violence prevention: During Svetlana's workshops, Kyrgyz students watched her film and studied the information brochures on bride abduction. Many of them contributed their personal experiences to the workshop

In her opinion, it is essential that both young women and their parents become aware of their rights, duties and responsibilities. In order to establish common ground, Svetlana gathered various experts around a round table: human rights representatives, scientists, journalists, religious scholars and interested citizens exchanged information about legal bases and existing local projects and thus contributed to clarifying the role of politics and media.

Tangible results

Based on the results of the expert discussion, Svetlana and some supporters organised a four-day training course for school children from the suburbs of the Kyrgyz capital Bishkek. Guided by expert instructors, the students discussed stereotypical gender roles that can take the form of discrimination or domestic violence.

Almost all participants brought personal experience to the workshop. Many of them knew kidnap victims personally or even men involved in a kidnapping. During the workshop they had the opportunity to exchange their experiences. By the end of the training course many participants were convinced that they did not want to participate in an abduction and would even seek to protect people at risk.

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