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11:33 GMT +3 hours18 December 2014
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Bride kidnapping tradition on the rise in North Caucasus

Society
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MAKHACHKALA, October 16 (RIA Novosti) - The tradition of bride kidnapping, outlawed in the 19th century, has seen a surge in Daghestan, a republic in Russia's troubled North Caucasus, the local interior ministry said on Tuesday.

Since the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, which finished on October 12, three abductions have been reported in the republic.

In Makhachkala, the capital of Daghestan, policemen detained a 30 year-old man, who abducted a 20 year-old law student intending to marry her. In a village in the Kizlyar district, 221 km (137 miles) northwest of Makhachkala, police continue their search for three men, who kidnapped a 22 year-old saleswoman from a local shop. An 18 year-old from a village in the Kizilyurt district, northwest of Makhachkala, was abducted by her 22 year-old suitor.

Bride abductions have been occasionally reported in the Caucasus, including the Russian republics of Chechnya, Daghestan and Ingushetia, as well as in former Soviet states of Georgia and Armenia. Sociologists disagree about the roots of this tradition: some say bride abductions appeared during Ottoman rule.

There are no hard statistics on how widespread the custom is, but human rights organizations operating in the Caucasus region believe thousands of women are forced to marry against their will every year.

Some locals say that in many cases abductions are a play-acted part of the wedding tradition.