Ingushetia to crack down on bride kidnapping

19 April 2017
The government building of the Republic of Ingushetia (Dominik K. Cagara / Archive)

Ingushetia’s parliament has proposed imprisoning kidnappers of brides with three-year prison sentences. The initiative comes from the speaker of parliament, Zelimkhan Yevloyev.

According to him, those who despite a prohibition of abducting brides kidnap girls, have to be arrested and jailed for at least three years. Yevloyev has instructed parliamentarians to prepare a draft bill on this issue.

The issue recently emerged in Ingushetia after a young man kidnapped the same girl for the third time. During the latest abduction, he and his friends beat the mother and stabbed the brother of the girl. The kidnapping was widely condemned in Ingush society.

Under pressure from the authorities, and fearing serious consequences, the girl was voluntarily released and taken home. The incident, however, has led to a serious conflict between the two teips (clans).

A few years ago, Ingushetia’s Council of Elders, a religious authority for Muslims in the republic, prohibited bride kidnapping. Supporters of the prohibition argued that it had nothing to do with Islam. The number of abductions has significantly decreased since the ruling, which says that offenders must pay compensation to their village.

Abduction of women and girls for marriage is already illegal under Russian law, in which kidnapping carries a sentence of 4–8 years in prison. However, in most cases of bride kidnapping, the kidnappers and the kidnapped woman’s family come to an agreement in which a criminal case is not launched.

The first region in the north Caucasus to ban kidnapping of brides was Chechnya. Authorities and clergy there expressed jointly their opposition to this ancient custom. Offenders there now face fines of ₽1,000,000 ($18,000) and criminal prosecution under Russian law. After the introduction of the ban in 2010, only a few cases have been reported.

In North Ossetia, the custom of bride kidnapping is still practiced without consequences. However, the custom is very often staged, with everything done with the consent of the woman.

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