Friday, March 02, 2007

Women's Issue - Marriage by Abduction/ Bride Kidnappings

We all have dreams of meeting the perfect man, having the wedding of our dreams, going on some lovely honeymoon and coming back to settle into married life.

Sadly, this is not the reality for a lot of women around the world. Academics describe marriage by abduction as the practice whereby a man takes a woman by force, rapes her and then attempts to use the stigma of rape and, should she become pregnant, the shame of pregnancy to secure their marriage.

Here's just a little bit on this issue:

In agricultural and patriarchal societies, where bride kidnapping is most common, children work for their family. A woman leaves her birth family, geographically and economically, when she marries, becoming instead a member of the groom's family. Due to this loss of labor, the woman's family do not want their daughters to marry young, and demand economic compensation known as a bride price when they do leave them. This conflicts with the interests of men, who want to marry early, as marriage means an increase in social status, and the interests of the groom's family, who will gain another pair of hands for the family farm or business. Paradoxically, being "kidnapped" might also be in the interests of the woman in such societies, as her role in the society would preclude her from choosing a husband for herself, at the risk of being disowned or even killed. It may also be the only socially acceptable way for her to become a mother, a desirable and highly prized status for many women. Depending on the legal system under which they live, the consent of the woman may not be a factor in judging the validity of the marriage.

The mechanism of bride kidnappings varies depending on where it is taking place.


One third of all unions created through kidnapping end up with the man abandoning his wife, which he is able to do since he holds absolute power in the relationship. And, to the chagrin of rights groups, women, who have been dumped by their husbands, have a very slim chance of remarrying. In the end, their families have no choice but to accept such marriages, if they work.
A girl, who has spent several nights with a man, is from then on a woman that no other man will marry. The marriage is regularised several days later during a brief ceremony where the prospective son-in-law asks his in-laws to pardon him for having 'stolen' their daughter. As a gesture of new relationship, he offers them a cow, and the deal is washed-down with some banana or sorghum beer.

If a girl - usually between 16 and 22 years of age - is considered to be a 'good catch' returns home alone from the market, or farm, she could be kidnapped by a group of youths and taken to the nearby hillside home of a man she barely knows. Along the way, she is beaten up and usually raped by each of the youths in order to break her resistance. This is a risky practice in a country where more than half a million people, out of a population of 7.5 million, live with HIV/AIDS. These abductions, as well as consummation of the marriage, are not given special status and are punishable by law as rape. They carry prison sentences of up to 20 years, under Rwanda's 1998 law. However, this law has never been tested because no one has ever pressed charges.


Abduction is a legitimate way of procuring a bride in southern Ethiopia. The practice has been going on so long that no-one can remember how it all began. The usual procedure is to kidnap a girl, hide her, and then eventually rape her. Then, having lost her virginity or becoming pregnant, the man can claim her as his bride. At this stage, the prospective husband will call the village elders to negotiate the bride's price and to act as middlemen between his family and that of his bride.

According to surveys conducted in 2003 by the National Committee on Traditional Practices in Ethiopia (NCTPE), the prevalence of marriage by abduction is 80 percent in some regions and as high as 92 percent in Southern Nations Nationalities and Peoples Region (SNNPR); with a national average of 69 percent.


Up to a third of all ethnic Kyrgyz women in Kyrgyzstan may have been wedded in non-consensual bride kidnappings. Some estimates of bride kidnapping rates in Kyrgyzstan put the figure at about 30 per cent of all marriages. Other studies suggest that, in some regions, up to 80 per cent of marriages take place through kidnapping. This country has one of the highest reported cases of bride kidnappings in the world.

*Information is power*


LondonBuki said...

What the *&!$ ???

There's too much c**p going on in this world!

Kidnapping is wrong! Raping is TERRIBLE! And some of these people do it like it's tradition!!!

I really HATE the way society(I know it's not the same everywhere) treats women! A man can sleep around and is not seen as 'DIRTY' but a woman is raped and she's used goods! A man can leave his wife and remarry, no problem. A married woman is untouchable!

Thanks for this Uzo...

The Life of a Stranger called me said...

I really don't how to start commenting on this - but I do feel annoyed that people can get away with Heinous crimes and the society accepts it.

snazzy said...

I've heard about this. I think it was called laying claim or something. I think I read a feminist argument that said that it is a logical extension of the patriarchial system. I don't agree with that, but it is true that patriarchy made this horror possible. A lot of people say education of the women will solve a lot of this, but I'm thinking female education and male firing squads

Anonymous said...

Hmmm. Thanks for the information and enlightenment.

In my head and around me said...

I've heard about this. It's sick and sad. I would hate to be a mother with daughters and living in these locations as its almost a given that they will be kidnapped and raped. Probably same way that their mum got "married" anyway.

I think these people need a female president. Heck, they need me. By the time I come with my reforms (castrate any perp) they will learn to marry the right way or remain bachelors for life.

Nonsense and ingredients

Omohemi Benson said...

Thanks for the information,it is so sad what women go through.

So theElders just negoitate the bride price?