Bride abduction in post-Soviet Central Asia: marking a shift towards patriarchy through local discourses of shame and tradition Academic Article uri icon


  • The apparent revival of non-consensual bride abduction in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan is somewhat surprising seventy years after the Soviet state banned the practice and introduced sweeping legislation to emancipate women. This article relies on local discourses of shame and tradition to explain changing marriage practices and to mark a shift towards greater patriarchy in post-Soviet Central Asia. Discourses of shame are mobilized by local actors in support of the popular view that a woman should 'stay' after being abducted. Women can and do resist abductions, but they risk dealing with the burden of shame. Further, in Kyrgyzstan, where bride abduction is increasingly re-imagined as a national tradition, women and activists who challenge this practice can be viewed as traitors to their ethnicity. In post-Soviet society, these discourses of shame and tradition have helped men assert further control over female mobility and female sexuality. 2009 Royal Anthropological Institute.

published proceedings


author list (cited authors)

  • Werner, C.

citation count

  • 77

complete list of authors

  • Werner, Cynthia

publication date

  • June 2009