4am starts are never fun. The five us met at the lobby of the Shumkar Hotel waiting patiently for our ride and translator all ready and packed for a two day visit to Issyk Kul; a beautiful lake more than 100 miles wide. A couple of sandstorms later and awesome breathtaking views and we were in a large town called Karakol at the Northern part of Issyk Kul Lake.
Many notable NGO's and researchers have stated that the phenomenon of non consensual bride kidnapping (Ala Kachuu) is worse in these extremely rural parts of Kyrgyzstan. We were due to meet with one of the NGO's we have been in touch with and after settling into our pad for the night, we were quickly away for the first of two of our meetings.
We met a gentleman probably in his late 70's who had claimed that he had been trafficked by a local police superintendent who had mentally abused him for over two years. Living a life full of blackmail, uncertainty and having his entire life earnings taken away from him, had rendered him to tears. The reason we had met with him was because our contact had said that his case was thrown out by the local prosecutor. We had been following up the lead because one of the families we will meet tomorrow, also had their case refused by the prosecutor.
Following this meeting, we went to a really rural village about an hours drive from Karakol. Here we met with a girl, 25 years old (names and pictures cannot be revealed due to safety concerns). She had been kidnapped in an extremely violent manner and had been taken from her home after four guys had broke into her home and dragged her from the window to their getaway car. We will be featuring her interview in our summary video (to be shown at our May event) and in our feature length film (YouTube, mid June) and so I will not go into much further detail.
Also present at the interview was her mother and an extremely poignant moment came when her mother explained to us how societal and community pressures had led to her deciding not to rescue her daughter from her captor. A long three hours of an extremely vivid and emotional interview left all 8 people who were at the session in tears.
Tomorrow, no doubt will be another tough day. Back in November 2011, we posted about a month long campaign by the Kyrgyz government following two suicides by Ala Kachuu victims in Karakol. Tomorrow we will be visiting their families and asking the difficult question; why did you not fight to bring your daughter back?
From Karakol, goodnight from the Restless Beings Kyrgyzstan team. We will be updating you all again soon
Mabrur, Karakol, Kyrgyzstan