In addition to the workshop, Russian and Kyrgyz information brochures were produced and distributed in more than 40 schools and seven cities across the country. The brochures are particularly intended to target younger boys and girls, informing them about the alleged custom "Ala kachuu".

At one point the number 155 can be read in large letters. The number represents the article of the Kyrgyz Penal Code that states that the abduction of a woman with the intention of marriage may carry a prison sentence of five to seven years. "Let the criminal know this!" is the demand in the brochure. "The article is public, which means that every witness – not just the victim – has the right to report the crime."

A short story published by the initiative has also attracted a lot of attention. In a two-minute animated film, the young Kyrgyz woman Erkinay finds herself on an emotional rollercoaster: despite being engaged to her partner Akjol, she is unable to defend herself against kidnapping. In the end, it takes the combined efforts of the police, her parents and her friends to free her. The film reached more than fifty thousand young people via social media, prompting much discussion in the appropriate channels.

Attracting cross-border attention

Looking back, Svetlana is delighted with the tangible results and the success of her commitment: "It is a great feeling to see people watching our film or holding the brochure in their hands and reacting to it."

"Only recently, a partner organisation in Bishkek supported us in printing our story in larger quantities. Now we have about 2,000 copies, which is fantastic," Svetlana says happily. "I hope that this is just the first step for me in offering solutions to this societal issue."

Svetlana is particularly proud of the fact that news of her project has reached human rights activists in the neighbouring country of Kazakhstan. There too "Ala kachuu" is a well-known issue. They are now aiming to distribute her information brochures and launch their own campaign against bride abduction.

Wolfgang Kuhnle

© ifa | Institut fur Auslandsbeziehungen 2018

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