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Kyrgyz President Signs Bill Increasing Punishment For Bride Kidnapping

Kyrgyz rights activists say thousands of women in the Central Asian country are kidnapped and forced into marriage every year. (file photo)
BISHKEK -- Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambaev has signed a bill to increase the maximum prison term for bride kidnapping.

The presidential press office told journalists Monday that the punishment for kidnapping women for marriage has been increased from three to seven years.

If the kidnapped bride is younger than 17, which is the minimum legal age for marriage, the punishment can be up to 10 years in prison.

Kyrgyz rights activists say about 12,000 Kyrgyz women are kidnapped and forced into marriage every year.

Many of them are reportedly younger than 17.

Early marriages are often registered unofficially at mosques, depriving the women of their legal rights.

With reporting by ITAR-TASS and Interfax