06/07/2018, 09.56
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Students against bride kidnapping: 'Let girls be happy'

The country is shocked by the murder of a young medical student: she died at the police station, killed by her kidnapper. UN and human rights NGOs: fighting the practice of forced marriages.

Bishkek (AsiaNews / Agencies) - "Let girls be happy". It is one of the slogans shouted by hundreds of university students and young people who took to the streets of the capital yesterday in protest against forced marriages following "bride kidnappings" (Ala Kachuu). Carrying white balloons, the 1,500 protesters recalled the killing of Burlai Turdaaly Kyzy (see photo 2), a young medical student killed by her kidnapper.

On May 28, the young woman died at the police station near Bishkek, where she went to report her 29-year-old kidnapper Mars Bodoshev. The man wanted to force the student to marry him through the practice of bride kidnapping, which is illegal in the country.

Burlai had a fiancé, the wedding was scheduled for August, and refused Bodoshev's advances. The first attempt at kidnapping failed thanks to her family's intervention. The second time, the two were stopped by the police, who brought them to the station. Here the agents left the victim and the kidnapper alone, to resolve the question peacefully. The killer, entering the police station armed with a knife, hurled himself on his victim killing her with three stab wounds. According to Burlai's sister, he managed to engrave the initials of her and her boyfriend on her skin. The kidnapper tried to take his own life, but failed. Currently he is in prison, awaiting trial.

The case sparked the outrage of the kyrgyza and international society, due to its brutality and police disinterest. Both the UN and human rights NGOs, such as Human Rights Watch denounced the incident, asking the former Soviet republic to apply the law against "bride kidnapping" more rigorously. In response, 23 officers were punished: a district police chief and two deputies were fired, while others were degraded or received a warning. This month a parliamentary meeting is awaited to discuss violence against women and children, commissioned by parliamentarian Ainuru Altynbayeva.

"Bride kidnapping" is a practice that dates back to the nomadic past of Kyrgyzstan. Since 2012, the punishments against the guilty have been exacerbated, going from a maximum of three years to 10. However, many cases are not reported due to the reluctance of the girl's family. According to UN figures, 13.8% of the kyrgyzes under the age of 24 married their kidnapper.

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