by 林 典子
Bride kidnapping, also known as marriage by abduction or marriage by capture, is a practice in which a man abducts the woman he wishes to marry. Bride kidnapping has been practiced around the world and throughout history. It continues to occur in countries in Central Asia, the Caucasus region, and parts of Africa, and among peoples as diverse as the Hmong in Southeast Asia, the Tzeltal in Mexico, and the Romani in Europe.
In most nations, bride kidnapping is considered a sex crime rather than a valid form of marriage. Some types of it may also be seen as falling along the continuum between forced marriage and arranged marriage. The term is sometimes used to include not only abductions, but also elopements, in which a couple runs away together and seeks the consent of their parents later; these may be referred to as non-consensual and consensual abductions respectively. However, even when the practice is against the law, judicial enforcement remains lax, such as in Moldova, Kyrgyzstan and Chechnya.
Bride kidnapping is distinguished from raptio in that the former refers to the abduction of one woman by one man (and his friends and relatives), and is still a widespread practice, whereas the latter refers to the large scale abduction of women by groups of men, possibly in a time of war.
Some cultures today maintain symbolic bride kidnapping ritual as part of traditions surrounding a wedding, in a nod to the practice of bride kidnapping which may have figured in that culture’s history. According to some sources, the honeymoon is a relic of marriage by capture, based on the practice of the husband going into hiding with his wife to avoid reprisals from her relatives, with the intention that the woman would be pregnant by the end of the month.
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