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Kyrgyz Activists Rally In Bishkek Against Bride-Snatching Tradition

Activists say more than 10,000 Kyrgyz girls, many teenagers, are abducted each year for marriage. (illustrative photo from the Kyz Korgon Institute, an NGO that campaigns to eliminate bride snatching in Kyrgyzstan).
BISHKEK -- Some 30 Kyrgyz human rights activists have picketed the parliament building in Bishkek, demanding tougher punishment for bride snatching.

The activists called their action "155" in reference to the Kyrgyz Criminal Code's Article 155, according to which bride snatching can be punished by up to five years in jail.

The Kyrgyz parliament is discussing possible amendments to the article to make the maximum punishment for the crime seven years in prison.

The activists say more than 10,000 Kyrgyz girls, many of whom are teenagers, are being abducted each year for forced marriages.

Last month, a man was sentenced to six years in prison after a young girl he abducted to marry him hanged herself.

That was the first ever jail sentence in Kyrgyzstan in a case related to bride snatching.