DAUGHTERS OF KYRGYZSTAN
Every fifth family in Kyrgyzstan is the result of ala-kachuu, which translates as
"grab a girl and run". This is the name for the practice of forced marriage, when a bride is kidnapped and forced into a marriage against her will.
This work reveals something scary about humanity. It shows how easy it is to
dehumanize a person who does not fight, who does not defend themselves. In
Daughters of Kyrgyzstan, I projected videos with kidnapped bodies and used it
as a reflection of our own humanity. To invoke outrage to motivate change.
Daughters of Kyrgyzstan
Resin on silicone with projected video
15 X 19.5
During Spring 2021, I saw a video of a bride kidnapping where a groom and his friends grab the girl from the street and push her into the car. In the video, Aizada is trying to escape but she does not have any chance against several men. I saw people in the video who witnessed the abduction but did not do anything because this kind of situation happens every day. I saw police who refused to find her because they thought that it would end with a happy wedding. As a result, it ended with funerals. Two days after her abduction, Aizada was found dead. Her abductor killed her because she refused to marry him. This story made me feel helpless and that women in Kyrgyzstan do not have power over their own bodies.
This made me think: are we still human when we are not in control over our own bodies? The body we were born with. The body that was given to us to live and experience life. What happens when that basic right is taken away? Are we still human or do we become inanimate objects?
In Daughters of Kyrgyzstan, the human body is treated like an inanimate object. But the object has a functionality. The body is ripped to pieces and functions as a screen where a projection of found videos of Kyrgyz girls being kidnapped is shown through gaps between pieces of flesh
Through those gaps, the viewer can partially see the acts where people deprive another person’s bodily freedom.
Kyrgyz people in my own country see these acts often but keep choosing to look at them through rose colored glasses of “tradition.” By presenting these acts to a non-Kyrgyz audience, I want my audience to see their own gaps and think about their own rose colored glasses. Western audience should not think that this piece is only a look at some other culture’s practices but also a reflection on their own.
TO ALL DAUGHTERS OF KYRGYZSTAN
They are born in this body. A body that can be grabbed, taken away, beaten, abused, and killed. A body that can be disposed of. A body over which we Daughters have no power.
And when was our power taken away? And did we ever have power at all?
I want you to think about it today.
I felt deep helplessness after seeing the video where Aizada was kidnapped. Aizada screams and resists in vain. Aizada was literally deprived of power over her own body when she was grabbed and dragged into a car and killed when she refused to marry the kidnapper. I cannot understand why some men think that they can afford to take our power. When did men decide it was allowed?
Aizada's case is one of many. In my work, I've shown many similar stories. In Kyrgyzstan around 10 thousand girls are being kidnapped every year! These girls fear shame and condemnation from the outside and so the majority are forced to marry their kidnapper. Worse still, there are cases like Aizada and Burulai where they are murdered if they refuse.
This is wrong and unfair. And this must stop.
We Daughters of Kyrgyzstan should reclaim our power. Our power has been stolen from us. Our power belongs only to us and no one else except us.
Aziza Abdieva a Daughter of Kyrgyzstan