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Margaret Mead Film & Video Festival: “Bride Kidnapping in Kyrgyzstan,” “Children of the Decree”
February 8, 2006 @ 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm EST
Bride Kidnapping in Kyrgyzstan (Petr Lom, 2005) is the first film to document the custom of bride kidnapping, an ancient marriage tradition in Kyrgyzstan, a former Soviet Republic in Central Asia. When a Kyrgyz man decides to marry, he often abducts the woman he has chosen. Typically, he and several friends hire a car, stake out his bride-to-be’s movements, snatch her off the street, and take her to the groom’s family home. A delegation is then sent to her family. The abducted woman is held until someone from her family arrives to determine whether they will accept the “proposal” and she will agree to marry her kidnapper. Bride Kidnapping documents in harrowing detail four such abductions, from the violent seizures on city streets and the tearful protests of the women, who are physically restrained and persuaded to accept their fate by the women of the groom’s family, to the often tense negotiations between the respective families, and either the eventual acquiescence or continued refusal of the young women.
Children of the Decree (Florin Iepan, 2004): “Procreation is the social duty of all fertile women,” was the political thinking during the 1960s and 1970s in Romania. In 1966, Ceaucescu issued Decree 770, in which he forbade abortion for all women unless they were over forty or were already taking care of four children. All forms of contraception were totally banned. The New Romanian Man was born. By 1969, the country had a million babies more than the previous average. Thousands of kindergartens were built overnight. Romanian society was rapidly changing. By using archival footage and excerpts from old fiction films as well as by interviewing famous persons from that time, the Iepan revives the period of tremendous oppression. Many deaths were caused by the mere fact that women, including wives of secret Romanian agents, famous TV presenters and actresses, had to undergo illegal abortions. Many women were jailed for having abortions done to them. Some died by using awkward abortion methods, like injecting mustard or lemon juice into the uterus. Sex life was no fun anymore. Nevertheless, Romania had a demographic boom and hosted a world conference on population in 1974.
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