The Newsletter 51 Summer 2009

Forty houses should forbid the girls: bride kidnapping amongst the Kazakh of western Mongolia

Anna Portisch

Non-consensual bride kidnapping is practiced in western Mongolia amongst the Kazakh diaspora. In neighbouring Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan the practice is thought to be increasing. In Mongolia there are no data indicating the prevalence of the practice, but according to local women it is a common occurrence. Although bride kidnapping is illegal, incidents are not generally reported to the police, and kidnappers are almost never charged. Anna Portisch considers one young woman’s kidnapping, and reflects on social control mechanisms within the community and how they are negotiated.