There are an estimated 24,000 people living in modern slavery in Kyrgyzstan (GSI 2018). The country remains a source, transit and destination country for men, women and children subjected to forced labour and sex trafficking. Moreover, women in the country are often subject to kidnapping and forced marriage, an act that was only outlawed in the country in 2013 when authorities recognised it could lead to marital rape, domestic violence and psychological trauma. However, in some communities the practice remains common.
Kyial was 20 years old when she was kidnapped by an acquaintance. She kept calling her mother for help, but to no avail. Kyial was raped on the first night in her kidnapper’s home. Unlike many other women, Kyial was able to escape. She contacted her friend, who in turn connected her to Open Line, an NGO based in Bishkek that offers kidnapped women counselling and legal advice.
This is a true story. It is my story. When my father was alive, he supported me both in my studies in school and everyday life. When my father died, my mother did not take my education seriously.
I was 20 when I was kidnapped. He was the younger brother of my mother’s colleague. He started driving towards his houses’ direction. I said to stop the car or I would throw myself out. But he didn’t stop. I cried as we drove and he said that I wouldn’t stay and would report him to the police.
At his place, 3-4 women tried to put a white wedding scarf on my head but I refused and threw it away. I kept calling my mother and asking her to come as soon as possible. But my mother didn’t visit me and only me aunt came in. My aunt pinched me and said that I should no cry, as I did not have a father and that this family had a house and car.
She put a wedding scarf on my head and left. At that moment, my faith in my mother vanished. That nigh he raped me. And I thought of committing suicide.
I wrote to my close friend and shared the story. Through a Whatsapp group, she and her friends got hold of a crisis center. They asked me for the address. Then the police rescued me and took my testimony.
One of my friends who worked as a volunteer took me to her house. Currently I rent an apartment with my little brother.
My message to girls is make an effort to get away from a kidnapping by contacting police and crisis centres and trust yourself for new beginnings after the experience. To men, I would advice that bride kidnapping is punishable up to 6 years, and you should not ruin girls’ lives.
To mothers, I recommend always supporting their daughters and encourage them by saying they are capable of doing great things.
Narrative provided by UN Women