Frontline World

KYRGYZSTAN - The Kidnapped Bride, March 2004


Related Features THE STORY
Synopsis of "The Kidnapped Bride"

INTERVIEW WITH THE PETER LOM
Marriage by Abduction

PHOTO ESSAY:
On the Roof of the World

FACTS & STATS
Economy, Government, Bride Kidnapping

LINKS & RESOURCES
Society and Culture, Women's Rights/Human Rights

MAP

REACT TO THIS STORY
Should the international community intervene when cultural traditions clash with modern notions of women's rights?

   

Photo Essay: The Mountains at the End of the World



A farmer rests above Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan’s sleepy capital of 800,000. A growing presence of international aid workers, businessmen and students adds to the already multiethnic flavor there, the result of both demographic reshuffling within the Soviet Union and the country’s location at an East-West crossroads.


The sun sets on Lenin in Bishkek’s central square. Unlike other Central Asian republics that gained independence in the early 1990s, Kyrgyzstan has not turned away from its Soviet history. For some, nostalgia for the social welfare of the past is fueled by the hardships of the present.


The façade of this Soviet-era building in Bishkek demonstrates the Soviet state’s belief that the arts should glorify the ideals of communism. Kyrgyz culture has a strong musical and storytelling tradition, exemplified by its epic poem about the hero Manas, who led the Kyrgyz to fend off invaders from the East.


The “late edition”: At day’s end, Kyrgyz men glance at the pages of Vecherny Bishkek, the city’s only daily newspaper. Independent media and international organizations are concerned over a decline in press freedom in Kyrgyzstan, once considered an island of democracy in the region.


The tiger is tamed: Cases of cheap, potent Russian vodka are stocked at a local store. Although three-quarters of the country is Muslim, alcoholism -- a lingering legacy of Russian colonialism and Soviet uprooting -- is a problem, yet vodka remains a key part of Central Asian hospitality.

 

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By Andy Isaacson - Andy Isaacson is a freelance photographer based in the San Francisco Bay Area. A collection of his work can be viewed at www.worldwebeyes.com.