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total length: 17:44

Clip 1 (length 4:51)
Witnessing the practice of bride kidnapping

Clip 2 (length 6:57)
Understanding bride kidnapping and one woman's resistance to it

Clip 3 (length 5:56)
A tragic end for one kidnapped bride


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Image from the storyBride Kidnapping and the Role of Women in Kyrgyzstan

Target Grade Levels:
Grades 7-12

Human Characteristics of Place, Tradition, Role of Women, Human Rights, Peer Pressure

• The Activity
• Extensions
• Relevant National Standards
• Cross-Curricular Activities
• Ties to Literature

The Activity

Have students write in their journal for five minutes about if they think they will marry. If not, why not? If so, how do they think they will meet the person they will someday marry? When the five minutes are up, ask for volunteers to share their ideas. Ask students what factors are important when choosing a spouse. How important is love when choosing the person to marry? In the discussion, point out that culture plays a key role in how families are formed and in the roles that are played by men and women.

Show students where Kyrgyzstan is on a map. Using Facts & Stats for Kyrgyzstan
as a reference, share a few details about the country's economy, land and people. Don't mention anything about bride kidnapping yet!

Next, explain to students that you want to invite them to a Kyrgyzstan wedding, then show them the video "Kyrgyzstan: The Kidnapped Bride" (about 17 minutes). (Note: This story can be viewed online in its entirety. A free transcript is also available to assist with planning. Please see the Related Story box at left for details.) To focus students' viewing, ask them to take notes on male and female roles in Kyrgyzstan society, especially as they relate to family life.

After the video, tell students that according to estimates, up to a third of all ethnic Kyrgyz women in Kyrgyzstan may have been wedded in nonconsensual bride kidnappings. Then discuss the following topics:

  • What does the practice of bride kidnapping tell us about Kyrgyzstan culture? What do U.S. courtship and wedding traditions tell the world about American culture? What are the similarities and differences?
  • What power do culture and tradition have in the persistence of bride kidnapping in Kyrgyzstan? What geographic, social and economic conditions influence this practice? What would need to change about Kyrgyzstan culture for this practice to stop? How might globalization and increased contact with other culture groups impact the bride kidnapping ritual? Is it likely that this tradition will continue in the next generation? Why or why not?
  • How did various women shown in the video respond to the practice of bride kidnapping? Be sure to discuss the behaviors of the potential brides, the mothers of the potential brides and the women in the potential groom's family. Why did some women support and others reject the practice of bride kidnapping? Do kidnapped brides in Kyrgyzstan who accept the wedding scarf truly consent to the marriage? Why or why not?
  • What role does peer pressure play in the tradition of bride kidnapping, for both the bride and groom? How do family wants and needs affect decisions that individuals make? What happens to the kidnapped brides who refuse to go along with the wedding? Closer to home, how does peer pressure influence the decisions that students make in their lives?
  • What is the impact of bride kidnapping on the brides themselves? How is the bride's identity and future determined by the experience of being kidnapped? How might students respond in a stressful situation that involves a decision with lifelong consequences?
  • Should bride kidnapping in Kyrgyzstan be considered a human rights violation or a complex cultural tradition that Westerners simply don't understand? (To help stimulate discussion on this question, select a few quotes made by FRONTLINE/World viewers, who spoke out on both of these perspectives in this story's "React" conversation at
Conclude the activity by having students write a pretend letter to a peer (male or female) in Kyrgyzstan that discusses the similarities and differences between U.S. and Kyrgyz courtship and wedding traditions.

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Expand class discussion on the role of women by exploring these related FRONTLINE/World stories:

China: Shanghai Nights
Tour Shanghai with controversial novelist Mian Mian, whose writing pushes the limits of Chinese culture and her government.

India: The Sex Workers
Learn how sex workers in India struggle to improve their conditions and safeguard their health.

Kenya: Run Lornah Run
Explore the traditional role of women in Kenya and find out how female long-distance runners are challenging the norm.

Nepal: Dreams of Chomolongma
Follow the stories of Sherpa women who scale Mt. Everest and are changing the role of women in Nepal.

Nigeria: The Road North
Chronicle the troubles of the Miss World pageant, read the reflections of five different Nigerian women on the challenges women face there, and watch a case study on women's rights and sharia law, as experienced by Amina Lawal.

The Women's Kingdom (from FRONTLINE/World's 'Rough Cut' series)
Learn about the matriarchal Mosuo society in China, one of the last in the world.

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Relevant National Standards

These standards are drawn from "Content Knowledge," a compilation of content standards and benchmarks for K-12 curriculum by McRel (Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning) at

Behavioral Studies
Standard 1: Understands that group and cultural influences contribute to human development, identity and behavior
Level III, Benchmark 5
Understands that various factors (e.g., wants and needs, talents, interests, influence of family and peers and media) affect decisions that individuals make
Standard 4: Understands the physical and human characteristics of place
Benchmark 1. Knows the human characteristics of places (e.g., cultural characteristics such as religion, language, politics, technology, family structure, gender; population characteristics; land uses; levels of development)
Standard 2: Knows environmental and external factors that affect individual and community health
Level III, Benchmark 4
Understands how peer relationships affect health (e.g., name calling, prejudice, exclusiveness, discrimination, risk-taking behaviors)
Life Skills
Self-Regulation, Standard 3: Considers risks
Level IV, Benchmark 1
Weighs risks in making decisions and solving problems
Level IV, Benchmark 6
Thinks clearly under stress

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Cross-Curricular Activities
Consider building on the themes of the above activity by working with colleagues in other disciplines to conduct the following activities.

Improve Health Care for Women in Underdeveloped Countries (Health)

The Activity

Proper health care during pregnancy and childbirth is vital to the well-being of both mother and child. To help students investigate the importance of such care, ask them to imagine that they are women who have just learned that they are pregnant. Show students where Afghanistan is on a map and ask them to pretend that half of the class lives in Afghanistan and the other half lives in the U.S.United States. Then, have students research the typical health care that they would receive in their assigned country during pregnancy and childbirth. A good starting point for research on Afghan health care is the FRONTLINE/World's feature, Invisible Women.
For women in the United States, students may wish to start with the Centers for Disease Control report, Safe Motherhood.

Have students incorporate their research findings into a descriptive paragraph about the health care they are likely to receive in their assigned country. Invite volunteers to share their paragraphs with the class. Compare and contrast the care and outcomes reported by the students for each country. Discuss the importance of prenatal and perinatal care to both the mother and the child.

Next, help students do something about the lack of proper health care for women in underdeveloped countries like Afghanistan. Guide students as they plan a fund-raising activity and then contribute the funds to an organization such as UNICEF
or Doctors Without Borders.

Relevant National Standards

Standard 2: Knows environmental and external factors that affect individual and community health
Level III, Benchmark 1
Knows cultural beliefs, socioeconomic considerations and other environmental factors within a community that influence the health of its members (e.g., relationship of values, socioeconomic status and cultural experiences to the selection of health-care services)
Standard 7: Knows how to maintain and promote personal health
Level III, Benchmark 2
Knows how positive health practices and appropriate health care can help to reduce health risks (e.g., good personal hygiene, health screenings, self-examinations)
Standard 8: Knows essential concepts about the prevention and control of disease
Level IV, Benchmark 3
Understands the importance of prenatal and perinatal care to both the mother and the child
Level IV, Benchmark 4
Understands the social, economic and political effects of disease on individuals, families and communities

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