Education thru Information
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Oct 2005; rpt Wed 6 June 2007 9pm
A common way of marrying in Kyrgyzstan.
Petr Lom's startling documentary is the first film ever to document the tradition of bride kidnapping. In Kyrgyzstan, estimates point to almost one in three rural women being kidnapped.
But although young Kyrgyz women may often expect to be accosted, that doesn't make the process any easier. Lom has captured shocking footage of them being dragged off the streets, bundled into cars and subjected to prolonged brow-beating sessions as the kidnapper families try to force them to marry a person they have never met.
So harrowing are these scenes – and so frightened and devastated are the women who unwillingly star in them – that they call into question the very presence of Lom and his translator. Should they have intervened to help the distressed women?
In response to this dilemma, Lom says that on balance he thinks the film will serve the greater good by raising awareness of the problem both inside and outside Kyrgyzstan.
The moral waters are made murkier still by the fact that all of the incidents Lom filmed had satisfactory outcomes. The women were either freed to go on with their lives, or they eventually claimed to be happy to have been taken.
You may even wonder if objection to bride-kidnapping is just another form of Western cultural interference.
"Many tears begin a good marriage", according to a Krygyz saying - a point the documentary reinforces. Indeed, the chief instigators of the abductions are generally women who were themselves kidnapped in the past and now regard it as a blessing.
However, as Lom also shows, not all kidnappings have benign outcomes - and when they go wrong, the results can be devastating