When I first arrived in Tbilisi for orientation, we were all told not to be too surprised that we might meet Georgian women who have been bride-napped. The cultural relations instructor repeatedly pointed out that bride-napping was a dying tradition and only really “happened in villages”.

I have met a few women who have been bride-napped and the basics have been explained to me: a gentleman sees or meets a woman, decides he wants to marry her, he then takes her and keeps her overnight at his house. I do not know how long passes between steps. While the gentleman does not touch his bride-to-be in anyway during the night, the woman is still shamed into marrying the man. All because she stayed in the house of a non-relative male overnight. It seems more often than not these days, the woman in some respect knows the man already, but in some cases she does not know him until she has been taken.

As I said before, I have met a few women who have been bride-napped. One volunteer’s host mother was bride-napped by her current husband. In her case she knew her husband before he took her and their marriage is a happy one full of love. But on the other end of the spectrum, I know a young lady, she is in fact younger than me, who was bride-napped by someone she did not know and was married to him a year before getting a divorce. Bride-napping already does not sit well with my ideals as an independent, free women, but the fact that being divorced, despite the marriage being against her will, counts as a strike against her, really stretches my cultural tolerance. A man she was interested in, upon finding out she had been married, ceased all communication with her. Despite this, she is a very positive women and is confident and poised.

Both of these occurrences happened in Kutaisi, the second largest city in Georgia, not a village…. Again, this does not happen to everyone, it can end happily and it sounds like it really is dying out. I have heard of daughters being bride-napped, her family finding who has taken her and then demanding her return, thus she is not forced to marry her napper.

This entry is not to make anyone angry,  I just wanted to point out a cultural difference that I have encountered and am not  quite sure how to handle. In the meantime, I will just make sure not to be bride-napped myself.

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