Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Bridenapping today (Mick Hartley)

Another slice of reality from the ever-observant Mick Hartley. This is the sort of phenomenon the one sometimes assumes everyone must know about. Not really.

—Jeff Weintraub
Mick Hartley (Politics & Culture)
October 12, 2011
Put simply: to not kidnap your wife means you are not a man.
I posted last year on the practice of bride kidnapping - "bridenapping" - in Kyrgyzstan. By some estimates the practice accounts for around 70% of marriages there. And, according to Emily Dugan, the practice is growing, not only in Kyrgyzstan, where it's seen as a reassertion of traditional cultural values after the collapse of the Soviet Union, but elsewhere too. In Somalia, for instance:
Last year, Asana, a 14-year-old from Somalia, popped out to get some meat and milk for her mother. As she walked in a Mogadishu market, a car with blacked-out windows pulled up, a door was flung open and she was dragged inside. A man she had never seen before said to the driver: "This is my wife; we just got engaged." The man was Mohamed Dahir, a leader of the terrorist group Al-Shabaab. Her money was taken, she was locked away and forced to become Dahir's wife....

The lack of awareness, and therefore of any worldwide campaign on the issue, leaves little hope for women such as Asana (her name has been changed to protect her from Al-Shabaab, who still send her death threats). Now 15, and bringing up Dahir's baby son, she considers herself one of the luckier ones. She managed to escape to Kenya after Dahir was killed in a shoot-out. Her story, however, would not be considered "lucky" by many.

Sitting in a plastic chair that dwarfs her childlike frame, she describes her experience: "He beat me and locked me up for one and a half months in a house. He said, 'If you talk I'll kill you'. I was so afraid that I accepted. Even when I wanted to go to the toilet, he escorted me. He wouldn't let me do anything on my own. He also used force to get me to have sex with him; he tied each of my legs with rope so they were apart. It was every night at midnight."
That this could happen in Somalia, with its "toxic combination of lawlessness, extreme Islamist values that give women no rights, and the shame of lost virginity", may not be too surprising. Elsewhere the signs are perhaps more worrying:

[JW From a simplistic supply-&-demand perspective, the increasingly skewed gender ratios among younger cohorts in China, with more young men looking for wives than there are women to go around, should automatically improve women's situation. Maybe, in some respects and for some women, but not necessarily.]
A shortage of women in China, blamed on people having sex-specific abortions because of the one-child policy, has resulted in men being willing to go to extreme lengths to find a wife. Future grooms pay kidnappers between £120 and £500 to find them a bride. Dealers in wives will often go to Vietnam, where women are a less scarce commodity, capture young women, and smuggle them across the border to their new Chinese "husbands".
With over 30 million excess young males now, the problem can only get worse.

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