One in five girls and women kidnapped for marriage in Kyrgyzstan reveals new study
by Reuters, Duke University, agencies
About one in five young women and girls in Kyrgyzstan are kidnapped for marriage, according to a study published on Wednesday which found their babies are smaller than average, probably due to their mothers'' psychological distress.
Bride kidnapping, which also occurs in countries like Armenia, Ethiopia, Kazakhstan and South Africa, is particularly common in rural parts of the Central Asian country even though it is illegal, researchers from the U.S.-based Duke University said.
The practice, known as "ala kachuu" which means "to take and run away", involves a potential groom forcibly taking a young woman or girl back to his home before pressuring her to agree to marriage by writing a letter of consent and wearing a "marriage scarf" over her head.
In many cases, the groom will rape his kidnapped bride to prevent her from returning to her family due to shame, according to the United Nations Population Fund.
"After kidnapping, these women are no longer assumed to be virgins. In addition, they might be perceived as stubborn and belligerent if they resist the marriage.. and become less attractive to other potential suitors," the report said.
Between 16 and 23 percent of women in Kyrgyzstan are abducted for marriage, but the rate is much higher among ethnic Kyrgyz where a third of all marriages are due to kidnapping, it said.
Ethnic Kyrgyz make up 70 percent of the country''s 6 million population which also includes Uzbeks, Russians and Turks.
Kidnapped brides tend to be younger than those in love marriages or arranged marriages, with 19 being the mean age, the study found.
Nearly one in 10 girls in Kyrgyzstan are married before they turn 18, according to global charity Girls Not Brides.
Although Kyrgyzstan outlawed bride kidnapping in 2013 and banned child marriage in 2016, nearly 12,000 young women and girls are thought to be kidnapped for marriage each year, the Women''s Support Centre in Kyrgyzstan says.
The study, published in the journal Demography, also said babies born to kidnapped brides weighed 80 to 190 grammes less than those from arranged marriages. Smaller birth weights have been linked to a higher risk of disease, lower education rates and earnings, it said.
It was unclear why these babies were smaller, but it was likely due to the psychological trauma suffered by the mother from being in a forced marriage, said economics professor Charles Becker, who co-authored the study.
There also seemed to be an underlying tolerance for bride kidnapping even though it is illegal, he added.
"The stigma of having been kidnapped does not seem to be large among the Kyrgyz, and people are willing to discuss it openly, even with strangers," Becker said in a statement.
"Our next step is to explore why the practice of kidnapping is unofficially accepted in a country that quite recently had a woman president."
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214 million women in developing countries who want family planning lack access to contraception
by Gates Foundation, UNFPA, FP2020, Reuters, agencies
11 July 2017
At Summit, National Leaders Recommit to funding Family Planning. (Every Woman/Every Child)
Some 37 country governments, 11 partner organizations, civil society agencies, foundations and companies have announced enhanced funding commitments to accelerate progress on rights-based family planning programmes at a international Family Planning Summit in London.
The governments & partners collectively announced $2.5 billion in funding between now and 2020 with a focus on better serving the largest generation of adolescents in history and the hardest-to-reach women and girls.
The Family Planning Summit was co-hosted by the UK Government, UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, in close partnership with the Family Planning 2020 Secretariat (FP2020).
In parallel with the Summit in London, more than 2500 people gathered at 21 satellite events across Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Indonesia, Malawi, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Sierra Leone, Thailand and Uganda, demonstrating their support for family planning.
The Summit aims to build on the work undertaken since the last Global Family Planning Summit in 2012 and to reaffirm international political support for women and girls to be able to decide for themselves whether, when and how many children to have.
The majority of the funding commitments – $1.5 billion USD – has been committed by countries in Asia and Africa.
Many of the Family Planning 2020 Secretariat’s 38 partner countries, ranging from Bangladesh and Burkina Faso to India, Indonesia and Uganda, have renewed commitments to accelerate family planning progress.
July 2017 (Reuters Africa, agencies)
Some 214 million women and girls in developing countries cannot get access to contraceptives, experts say. Meeting that need could help avert 67 million unintended pregnancies every year, thereby preventing the deaths of 76,000 women from pregnancy and childbirth related complications.
Universal access to reproductive health services would also lead to economic benefits of more than $430 billion a year, they say.
"Family planning has the power to change a whole country''s trajectory and help lift people out of grinding poverty," Priti Patel, Britain''s minister for international development, said in a statement prior to the Summit.
Contraceptives are "one of the greatest anti-poverty innovations the world has ever known", philanthropist Melinda Gates said calling for family planning to be a global priority.
Access to birth control boosts economic productivity by allowing women to earn an income and leads to smaller families with more resources to spend on children''s health and education, Gates said.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is co-hosting the international summit on family planning to help expand access to contraception.
"Contraceptives empower women. And empowered women.. well, they transform societies," Gates says. The Gates foundation has announced an additional $375 million for family planning over the next four years.
The summit comes at a critical time, with U.S. President Donald Trump having said he will end funding to the U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA), the United Nations agency which deals with family planning, sexual and reproductive health. The Trump administration also reinstated a policy blocking U.S. funding to overseas groups that perform or provide information about abortion.
Gates said she was "deeply troubled" by the proposed cuts. "If empowering women is more than just rhetoric for the president, he will prove it by funding family planning," she added.
"My family, my career, and my life are the direct result of having access to contraceptives," she said. But many women around the world get pregnant "too young, too old and too often", she said.
"In Malawi, everyone I met told me they knew a woman who had died in pregnancy," she said. "In India, I sat in a circle of women and asked if anyone had lost a child. Every single woman raised her hand."
Gates said contraceptives were "one of the smartest investments countries can make".
"At the individual level, contraceptives make lives better. In the aggregate, they transform economies."
The summit held on World Population Day, will focus on ramping up access to contraceptives for adolescents, boosting family planning services in humanitarian crises and improving the supply and range of contraceptives available.
The conference comes five years after activists, philanthropists and national leaders gathered at an earlier summit and set a goal to empower 120 million additional women and girls in the 69 poorest countries to use modern contraception by 2020.
The number has only grown by 30 million since then, meaning the target will be missed unless efforts are accelerated, organisers said.
Dr Natalia Kanem, Acting Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), said:
“Together we must keep our promise to leave no woman behind. Even though family planning is one of the best investments for development and women’s empowerment, 214 million women in developing countries who want family planning still lack access to modern contraception. To meet our common goal of reaching 120 million more women and girls by 2020, we must strengthen partnerships and mobilize more funding.
As we strive to achieve universal access to sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights, we are committed to getting to zero unmet need for family planning by 2030 to ensure a better future for all.”
Melinda Gates, Co-Chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, said:
“Access to contraceptives changes everything. Women are freer to work outside the home, earn an income, and contribute to the economy.
Mothers and fathers can devote more resources to their kids’ health and education, setting them up for a more productive future.
Multiply that by millions of families, and you see why contraceptives are one of the greatest anti-poverty innovations the world has ever known and one of the smartest investments countries can make. Through the new commitments expected today at the Family Planning Summit, we have made a bold statement that investing in family planning is crucial to building the healthier and more prosperous future we’re all working towards.”
Beth Schlachter, Executive Director of FP2020, said:
"We are guided by the urgency of knowing that our work affects the lives and futures of women every day. The Summit is a chance to evaluate our progress on family planning, and re-dedicate ourselves to bringing this life-saving intervention to all that need and want it."
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