Home    Number 3, 2011

Kyz ala kachuu and adat: non consensual bride kidnapping and tradition in Kyrgyzstan

Type of publication: Research Article

About author(s)

Russell Kleinbach | KleinbachR@PhilaU.Edu | Philadelphia University Philadelphia, PA United States

Lilli Salimzhanova | lilysali@yahoo.com | American University of Central Asia 7/6 Aaly Tokombaev Street Bishkek, Kyrgyz Republic 720060


non-consensual marriage, adat, women rights, family, kyrgyzstan, non-consensual bride kidnapping, kyrgyz traditions


The position of Kyrgyz adat (traditional customary law) on the practice of non-consensual bride kidnapping in Kyrgyzstan has not been documented nor is there a consensus among the ethnic Kyrgyz on whether or not nonconsensual bride kidnapping is a Kyrgyz ‘tradition’. This paper provides a review of the historical and ethnographic evidence regarding the frequency and appropriateness (according to Kyrgyz adat) of non-consensual bride kidnapping in traditional Kyrgyz society before the political, economic and social changes of the Soviet period. The evidence presented by this research discredits the widely held belief in Kyrgyzstan, that non-consensual kidnapping is a Kyrgyz adat tradition that was widely practiced with general social approval in ancient times. The information provided in this paper can be used by educators, legislators and the media to demonstrate that non-consensual kidnapping is not legitimated by pre-Soviet Kyrgyz adat tradition.


Kleinbach, R., Salimjanova, L. 2011. Kyz ala kachuu and adat: non consensual bride kidnapping and tradition in Kyrgyzstan. Etnograficheskoe obozrenie 3: 89-104

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