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Fashion Week in Kyrgyzstan (13 of 13)
Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan
By Nargiza Ryskulova
05 Apr 2013

New fashionistas claim that fashion should be accessible for every woman, regardless of her shape.

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Fashion Week in Kyrgyzstan (9 of 13)
Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan
By Nargiza Ryskulova
05 Apr 2013

It is an opportunity for local craftsmen to sell their models in the local market.

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Fashion Week in Kyrgyzstan (5 of 13)
Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan
By Nargiza Ryskulova
05 Apr 2013

Kyrgyzstan’s sewing industry is the largest and the most developed segment of the country’s light industry.

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Fashion Week in Kyrgyzstan
Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan
By Mais Istanbuli
05 Apr 2013

Kyrgyzstan will be holding its 15th annual Fashion week this spring, where local designers will present their new collections, sell their products and promote their work to international experts in the industry. Every year, the winners of the Kyrgyzstan's fashion week are invited to international shows in Moscow, Amsterdam, Berlin and Osaka.

Kyrgyzstan’s sewing industry is the largest and the most developed segment of the country’s light industry. Despite the fact that the number of sewing factories in Kyrgyzstan has decreased since 2005, the volume of production has increased, raking in around $140 million. Products branded “Made in KG” are being exported to Russia, and are slowly entering the European market. Kyrgyzstan also has the potential to develop its textile industry, as it produces about 100 thousand tons of cotton annually. This cotton is currently being exported due to the lack of a developed processing industry inside the country. Kyrgyzstan's sewing industry continues to face many challenges, including a deficit in textile production, violations of labour rights, and working in a shadow economy.

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Fashion Week in Kyrgyzstan (2 of 13)
Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan
By Nargiza Ryskulova
05 Apr 2013

Organizers claim that around 6 thousand people attend fashion week in Kyrgyzstan, annually.

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Fashion Week in Kyrgyzstan (8 of 13)
Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan
By Nargiza Ryskulova
05 Apr 2013

Photographers present a photo exhibition, portraying their vision of beaty on the Fashion Show

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Fashion Week in Kyrgyzstan (7 of 13)
Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan
By Nargiza Ryskulova
05 Apr 2013

New fashion trends require implementation of advanced technology.

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Fashion Week in Kyrgyzstan (6 of 13)
Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan
By Nargiza Ryskulova
05 Apr 2013

Annually, the winners of the Fashion week in Kyrgyzstan are invited to the international fashion shows in Moscow, Amsterdam, Berlin and Osaka.

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Fashion Week in Kyrgyzstan (4 of 13)
Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan
By Nargiza Ryskulova
05 Apr 2013

The product branded “Made in KG” is being exported to Russia, and slowly entering the European market.

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Fashion Week in Kyrgyzstan (3 of 13)
Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan
By Nargiza Ryskulova
05 Apr 2013

Recently in Kyrgyzstan, there is a rise of interest in Islamic Fashion; more and more brands are selling Islamic-oriented clothing.

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Fashion Week in Kyrgyzstan (2 of 13)
Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan
By Nargiza Ryskulova
05 Apr 2013

Masters of local hand-craft often use felt to create clothing

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The Kidnapped Brides of Kyrgyzstan
Bishkek
By Daniel Burgui Iguzkiza
31 Jan 2011

Text and photos by Daniel Burgui Iguzkiza

FULL ARTICLE IN ENGLISH UPON REQUEST
(ARTICLE COMPLET EN FRANCAIS SI-JOINT) (ARTICULO COMPLETO EN ESPAÑOL ANEXADO)

Although there are no reliable statistics, it is estimated that one in three women in Kyrgyzstan are kidnapped and married against their will. Young women are often forced to marry the men who abduct them, in many cases complete strangers, and sometimes violently.

When Bermet left her home in the morning, nothing made her suspect that by the end of that day; she would be a married woman. Bermet, 19, was abducted by a stranger in Bishkek as she was coming back from her college philology class. She was violently forced into her captor's car, where she spent more than three hours fighting her abduction on the way to a house in Cholpon-Ata, in a remote village hundreds of kilometres far from her place at Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan's capital city. Exhausted by her efforts, she decided to quit. “I decided stop fighting because I was exhausted and I was nearly to faint”, she narrates now, at her mother-in-law's house. She was isolated in a room and after passing a night there she was forced to get married. She eventually got pregnant by her kidnapper. Today, her husband.

Elmira Elimsolova, a woman nearing fifty-years-old, and her daughter were both married against their will.

"I was kidnapped when I was young and I have had seven children and a good husband,” she said. “Two of my four daughters have been kidnapped too. I cried a lot, I did not want that for them, but now they are happy."

Although bride kidnapping is against Kyrgyz law and officially prosecuted, few kidnappers have been condemned. In fact, during the last 20 years there have been only two resolutions.

The most recent sentence it was, a year ago, by the end of October 2013. A 30 year-old man who had raped twice a 17-years old teen. It took place on the region of Bakai-Ata. He attempted to kidnap her in three failed occasions.

The first time he tried to abduct her was on August 27, 2012; but her parents went on time to rescue and release her. The same evening, just few hours after the first attempt, he, unsuccessfully, tried to kidnap her again. During the following weeks, he threatened her via sms texting in order to make her keep silent about the sexual aggression. Because of shame, She never told to her parents. But on September 9th 2012, he abducted the young girl again. This time, the kidnaper was able to retain his potential bride a couple of days in a cottage thanks to the collaboration of the family of the supposed groom. He raped her again. This is a usual way to sustain the forced marriage, arguing that it has been consummated, obviously by force. But, the insistence of the parents of the girl and their efforts for her release were filled at the midnight of Sept 11th 2012 when a local Police squad entered at the captor’s house, arrested him and freed the girl.

During the trial of this case, the judge –a lady, not a man– asked to the accused: “Would you be disposed to apologize to the victim and marry her?”. Or even worst, during the trial, the victim was asked to not continue the process: “They are offering to you a wealthy family, a good mother in law, a handsome husband, why are you doing that? Why do you need to continue with this process?”

Munara Beknazarova, a women rights activist and head of Open Line Foundation, who has been following this case and its long and bizarre process at the Court says that this is a clear example of how socially accepted is this practice on the Kyrgyz people. Finally the perpetrator of the kidnap and aggression was sentenced to five years of imprisonment. But he only was charged of kidnapping. The medical examiners were never able to probe the sexual aggression.

While the practice remains prevalent in many regions of Kyrgyzstan, everyday citizens, activists and professionals are now speaking out against the practice of kidnapping women for marriage.

Kuban Kurmanbekovich, 32, is a nomadic shepherd from Talastan, near the Kochkor region. Although they now live in a remote area, he met his wife Elnura Amasilieva, 32, at college. They have three children: Arsen, Adelina and Esen. During the USSR era, Kuban studied Agricultural Engineering, while Elnura studied Economics. They met in a disco, fell in love and married.

"I do not want anyone to kidnap my daughter. Kidnapping is not a Kyrgyz tradition. It's just a pretext made by evil people", he says.

Dr. Turganbubu Orunbaeva, a medical doctor and feminist activist, has spent the last twenty years on the vanguard of eradicating the bride kidnapping tradition in her region. She conducts training sessions and conferences for teens, the Islamic authorities, police and abducted women. She also offers her support to women who have been victims of any kind of vulnerable situation or gender violence through her association called 'Bakubat,' which means 'comfort' in the Kyrgyz language.

Professor Kleinbach, an emeritus doctor from the University of Philadelphia, has been investigating bride kidnapping for the last twenty years. He says that even some of his students at the university fear being kidnapped. Some of the young ladies wear false wedding rings as a safeguard against abduction, arguing that they are already married.

However, some creative couples have used the practice to their advantage. One young man even kidnapped his bride at her behest.

After several years dating Mariam, Solo was still not able to save enough money for their wedding. The dowry set by Mariam’s father was simply too expensive for him to afford. A few weeks before their marriage, Solo kidnapped Mariam at her request in order to avoid paying the dowry. “We were in love,” the two said. “This was the only way for us to overcome Mariam’s father’s price on his daughter’s hand in marriage.”