Archive for October, 2010

In the mountains of Guria, July 2010. Photo: Elke Kamm

In the mountains of Guria, July 2010. Photo: Elke Kamm

Bride capture is one keyword of my questions in the interviews I conduct. Astonishingly I met a lot of women, who either had been kidnapped themselves or at least know cases of kidnapping – in earlier times and even today.
This way of getting married may take place with or without the bride’s accordance. If she agrees to the elopement, this is set in scene by the couple in order to avoid problems with either set of parents who may not fully approve of the match. This is meant by voluntarily kidnapping.

Yet, there is also the involuntary kidnapping:
Natela, an 80-year old woman from a small village next to Tetriskaro told me about her kidnapping:
Natela was 23 years old when she was told to help her grandmother in the mountains. She had to leave with her 15-year-old cousin and some cattle. On the way to the alp three men came up to them and one of them told the 15-year old boy that he had seen one cow running away from the herd. The boy hurried to catch the cow and left his cousin Natela alone. This was the glimpse the men sought for. Two of them dragged Natela underneath her arms and carried her into the forest, where some friends of the kidnappers were waiting helping them to carry the women into the house of the three men. The woman was very afraid, she shouted and cried, but nobody could hear her crying. Natela did not even know, who the kidnapper was, in the sense of, who will be the one, she has to marry afterwards?
They brought her to a house, where the three brothers lived after their parent’s death. Natela had to stay there, even she did not want to – she was not allowed to return home. On the next day, her parents found out, where their daughter stayed. They were very nervous and started to discuss with the eldest kidnapper. He stopped all discussions by saying, the girl belongs to him and he will marry her, if the parents do not agree, he will kill Natelas brother. Natela still did not agree on the wedding, neither did her mother. But under these circumstances there was no other way than the agreement of Natelas parents.
Once the girl has spent more than a couple of hours with a man, her virginity is questioned. She then will have difficulties in finding a man of her choice. Most Georgian men do not marry a woman who has already been kidnapped by someone else. Therefore the girl and her parents will agree on the marriage in most cases. If they would not agree, the girls behaviour is considered a shame – sirzchvili – and so the girl is forced to stay with this man and this regardless of whether she actually has lost her virginity or not. Her value, her honour, (patiosneba, ghirseba, namusi, sindisi) would decrease.
Natela married this man and had four children with him. Although she said, he was a sympathetic and handsome man; she never fell in love with him.
Cases of involuntary kidnapping still happen in Georgia. Although they happen very rarely and the State forbids it, this custom is still seen as a peccadillo. Whenever it happens, the girl often is forced by the kidnapper and her own family to stay to keep her honour.


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