I heard recently that the tradition of having a honeymoon after one gets married has some very nefarious origins. Back when abducting the bride from a neighboring village or tribe was even more commonplace than it is today, it was a good idea for the man to hide the woman for a couple of weeks. That way the girl’s family had a chance to calm down, and in some cultures be assured that she was now “damaged goods” and not worthy of reclamation.
The sad thing is that this isn’t ancient history. According to Wikipedia, bride abduction is common among the Hmong people of Southeast Asia, the Romani, the Tzeltal in Mexico, and it’s a long-standing tradition amongst the people of Kyrgyzstan. It’s also still done in Rwanda, Ethiopia, Kenya, Chechnya, Moldova, Turkey, parts of India and Bulgaria.
Most recently there was a horrifying abduction of 234 school girls between the ages of 16 and 18 in Nigeria. According to the Washington Post, rumor has it that they were taken into the forests and forced to marry members of the radical militant group Boko Haram. The group’s name literally translates to “western education is a sin.” “The group, for which Western education is anathema, has killed at least 2,300 people since 2010, according to estimates in journalistic and Amnesty International reports.”
When will the world stop looking at women as commodities? And what good can possibly come from relegating yourself to a lifetime of being, basically, a slave owner and a rapist? Is that your idea of happily ever after? Is readily available sex and housekeeping really worth all the misery?
Bride abduction is only one step above sex trafficking, which is also horribly prevalent throughout the world. When I was 19 I was approached by what I believe was a sex trafficker. I was in Paris, standing outside a museum, when a very good looking but strangely scary man approached me and asked if I wanted to go to a party. I said, “Uh, I don’t think my boyfriend would appreciate that.” And thank God my boyfriend arrived right at that moment. And the man ran, literally ran, away. I often think about that close call and what might have become of me. Because of this, stories like those in Nigeria strike a chord.
The frustrating thing about bride abduction, sex trafficking, and rape in general, and this is globally, is that most cultures view the victims as being culpable, tainted, and damaged, so even if they manage to get free, their lives are forever ruined, so many women simply resign themselves to their fate, which makes the whole sick crime that much easier to carry out.
Until we as a species educate ourselves and adopt a more sane attitude to these sex crimes and hold accountable the people who are really at fault, these women will be punished for the rest of their lives.
Some of the Nigerian school girls.
[Image credit: hellobeautiful.com]