Kyrgyzstan plan? Immigration Minister Peter Dutton Photo: Alex EllinghausenIn Kyrgyzstan they call it “ala kachuu”. Loosely translated it means: grab a woman and run away.
It’s an ancient form of bride kidnapping said to have its roots in nomadic custom. It was outlawed under Soviet rule but it’s back in a big way: men drive around looking for women to kidnap and force into marriage and the authorities don’t do much to stop it.
Sometimes it’s consensual – an elaborate ritual – but usually not. It can involve rape and other forms of violence. Local civil society groups say thousands of women are forced into sexual and domestic servitude this way every year and the problem’s only getting worse.
Indeed, Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade warns travellers about it in its Kyrgyzstan travel advice.
“Women travelling alone and after dark should take extra care for their own security as kidnapping local women for marriage is an ongoing occurrence in the Kyrgyz Republic, and foreigners could mistakenly fall victim to such kidnappings,” it says.
It also warns about the threat of violent crime, gangs, robbery, terrorism, militants, civil unrest, treacherous roads, endemic diseases, bad hospitals, strict laws, police harassment, earthquakes and avalanches.
And if that’s not enough, Human Rights Watch also warns of torture, widespread judicial corruption, attacks on minorities such as gay and lesbian people, entrenched racism and the terrible treatment of refugees. The country’s capital, Bishkek, lies along heroin smuggling routes from Afghanistan into Russia and Europe.
Nonetheless, Kyrgyzstan is reportedly the latest place to which the Turnbull government is considering sending refugees – particularly Hazara Afghans – currently languishing in Australian detention facilities on Nauru and Manus Island. */]]>
The government is under pressure to find countries that will agree to resettle the 1500 asylum seekers sent offshore after coming to Australia by boat. The Immigration Minister’s office has declined to confirm or deny the Kyrgyzstan claims, only referring Fairfax Media to his October 9 statement that the government is in talks with a “number” of other countries.
The search comes as a result of the failure of the government’s so-called Cambodian solution, which saw just four people resettled in the south-east Asian nation despite costing taxpayers tens of millions of dollars.
Finance Minister Mathias Cormann was tight-lipped when pressed about the reports during a television appearance on Saturday.
“I’m not going to speculate about an unconfirmed story,” he told Sky News.
“We are having conversations with other countries to support our offshore processing arrangements and when we’re in a position to make relevant announcements, no doubt the minister for immigration will do so.”
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said the Cambodian deal was a “failed experiment” and the government should remove the “blanket of secrecy” and be up front about its future plans.
“The government should come clean, tell the Australian people what’s going on,” he told reporters.
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