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Gender-based violence prevention program in Kyrgyzstan


Every hour in Kyrgyzstan, a girl is kidnapped for the ostensive purpose of marriage. Resulting in one-third of all marriages in the country being nonconsensual. This phenomenon is called “Ala Kachuu” - the abduction of girls for forced marriage. In rural regions people justify “Ala Kachuu” or so called “Bride Kidnapping” by referring to it as the quintessential Kyrgyz tradition. Therefore, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) set out a communicational goal to form a new narrative that refers Bride Kidnapping as a criminal offense. Drama films in Kyrgyz language are very popular in Kyrgyzstan. Especially, Youtube content is in high demand on the internet. Therefore, it was determined to produce a short film about a kidnapping of an underage girl, named Azhar. Azhar lives with her mother in rural countryside, while her father is working in Russia. Desperate, the girl’s mother turns to her neighbor, Baatyr, for help. The climax of the film is when they step over an old woman. Quite frequently when a girl refuses to stay and intends to leave, mother or a grandmother of the kidnapper lies down across the doorway and threatens to curse the girl, if she steps over. Emotionally and physically drained girls often lack the courage to do it. In the film, Baatyr himself steps over the old woman, while carrying Azhar. When developing the scenario, there was a significant risk that this scene would cause backlash and would be regarded as provocative and disrespectful to traditions. However, the release of the film coincided with a tragedy that changed the whole narrative of the film. A real girl Burulai had been kidnapped by a stranger and then killed in the police station. She was stabbed to death with a knife. In the state of collective grief in the country, the film caused a major stir In a month, the film got 2 million views, considering the fact that about 2.5 million users have access to internet. More than 100 000 mentions about the film on social media platforms. All leading Kyrgyz media published the film and all television channels of the country broadcasted the film The predicted risk of a possible negative reaction to the scene with stepping over the threshold was not fulfilled. The public was ready to cross this line and take a step into the future. Into the future without violence.


Director and screenwriter: Azim Azimov Producers: Askat Zhanuzakov and Aikokul Ibraeva Cameraman: Talant Urgaziev Editor: Alymbai Asymov Sound designer: Nurlanbek Kamchybekov