Naomi Galindo


Education: Majoring in Modern Languages

Mentor: Vera Smirnova, Ph.D.

McNair Project: "Islamic Traditionalism, Post-Soviet Central Asia, and the New Secularist way: a Close Examination on the Progress of Women’s Rights in Kyrgyzstan"

Religion is an important aspect of people’s lives. This is no different in the nations of Central Asia. The nations of Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, and especially Kyrgyzstan, all have considered Islam a part of their identity. This was changed once Kyrgyzstan was absorbed in 1936 as religion became prohibited under Soviet role and mosques became factories. The aim of this paper is to examine how the Soviet Union played a role in establishing a different social structure than that previously set by Islamic beliefs; it will also examine the cultural concept of bride kidnapping, which is a practice that was ongoing before Kyrgyzstan joined the Soviet Union. When Kyrgyzstan became part of the USSR, bride kidnapping was banned along with religion, which made it hard to continue practicing Islam. The tradition of bride kidnapping has been brought into question on whether it violates human rights, especially women’s rights in Kyrgyzstan. Even though it’s a practice that has been around for centuries, people debate whether this practice is holding back the democratic progress of Kyrgyzstan. Women’s rights in Kyrgyzstan have been closely examined since bride kidnapping was reinstated, and previous research shows it has had a negative impact on society because it has led women to die by suicide. Therefore, this tradition has inhibited Kyrgyzstan’s transition into a democratic nation.