Ala-kachuu was once a beautiful, thoughtful practice. The so-called practice right now isn’t the tradition in its proper form; it is a horrible crime masked under the title of “tradition.” I first heard of it in 2018, when 20-year-old Burulai Turdalaaly-Kyzy was kidnapped and gruesomely murdered right at the police station – the entire country was furious.
After experiencing the fury and mourning of Burulai the whole country went through, I knew I needed to involve myself for the safety of all of Kyrgyzstan’s women and the health of the Kyrgyz democracy. This practice allows so many shameful factors to play a role, with misogyny being one of the worst. For example, 27-year-old Aizada Kanatbekova was kidnapped in broad daylight. It could have been anybody, even me. No passerby even tried to help. In spite of the videotape evidence from the cameras installed in the parking lot where the kidnapping occurred and even the license plates of the vehicles used to kidnap Aizada, police still chose to dismiss the case. A graphic example of the police’s negligence when it comes to ala-kachuu. This vile crime is one of the prime examples of the not-so-healthy democracy of Kyrgyzstan, where negligence and misogyny rule, not the law. There is a fine line between tradition and the law in the Kyrgyz Republic; ala-kachuu stands right in between. There is a deficiency in the actuality of the law when it comes to this particular crime.
Article 40 of the Constitution of the Kyrgyz Republic states:
Everyone shall be guaranteed judicial protection of his/her rights and freedoms envisaged in the present Constitution, laws, international treaties to which the Kyrgyz Republic is a party as well as universally recognized principles and norms of international law. The state shall ensure the development of extrajudicial and pre-trial methods, forms and means to protect human and civil rights and freedoms. Everyone shall have the right to protect his/her rights and freedoms by any means that are not prohibited by law. Everyone shall have the right to be provided with qualified legal aid. In cases provided for in the law, legal aid is rendered at the expense of the state.
I have been fortunate enough to have interned at the Supreme Court of the Kyrgyz Republic, where I assisted the Executive Director of the Association of All Women Judges of Kyrgyzstan. This experience has helped me, especially as a young woman, realize how critical it is to know one’s rights and the powers one holds. My position has given me many opportunities to listen, learn, and be inspired. I attended meetings between the Association and the Kyrgyz Parliament, where I was in the presence of Kyrgyzstan’s most powerful government representatives. I have gained a deeper understanding of underlying social issues in Kyrgyzstan and worldwide. I was always in awe of being present, grateful for the chance to research and analyze famous cases that this amazing team of women has successfully covered, and thrilled to have been able to use all of my knowledge gained from them.
I am committed to improving society with law and solving issues through law. My internship experience has taught me how to address the situation using the law and not being intimidated. The powerful Women Judges team, who work daily in a predominantly men’s government, to help make people’s living situations a little less unjust and to allow their voices to be heard – is all I want to do in my future. The women of my beautiful homeland should not be facing such horror. I am not a journalist; I am a young woman representing other young women of Kyrgyzstan, so they have the privilege of not questioning if they should risk their life to go on a walk.