By Misha Vignanski
Tbilisi, May 19 (EFE).- Chinara Kodzhaeva was 14 when her father told her she had been arranged to marry on her 15th birthday.
“He told me a well off family was asking for my hand in marriage for their son and that it was a settled affair,” Chinara, who is now 20 years old, told Efe.
“I didn’t even know the man, who was much older than me,” she said.
Chinara told her teacher about her family’s plan to marry her off in a few months. The teacher reported the incident to the police, who saved her life.
Chinara’s father was sentenced to two years of prison for attempting to forcibly marry off his underage daughter.
But Chinara’s story is an exception. The abduction of underage brides is an ancient Caucasian tradition, but in Georgia, an aspiring member of the European Union, it is still commonplace.
Despite efforts to eradicate the shameful custom, Georgia has the second-highest rate of underage bride abductions in eastern Europe.
An average of 10 girls are kidnapped and forced to marry each month, according to Georgia’s Ministry of Internal Affairs, and 14% of Georgian women marry before the age of 18, a United Nations report in 2018 revealed.
According to one of Georgia’s leading experts on the subject, Goga Jatiashvil, the reason why abductions are still so common is because of the patriarchal way of life, gender inequality, lack of education and the economic crisis.