Sickening footage showing a screaming young woman being bundled into a car in a Russian ‘bride kidnap’ has sparked outrage.
The woman is seen shrieking and pleading as she is allegedly forced into a white Toyota so she can be married off to a stranger.
With a large white coat thrown over her, she is carried by two men into the car in the city of Vladikavkaz, seemingly against her will.
It is a medieval-style ‘bride kidnapping’, which locals say has gone unpunished.
A female friend of the victim can be seen screaming and demanding the kidnapper and his friends let the woman go free.
Gun shots are heard and car horns are hooting as the attacker’s friends and relatives allegedly celebrate a successful “bride stealing”.
At one point, the friend, who can be seen in the clip wearing jeans and an orange jumper, tries to sit in the front seat of the car.
However, she is forcefully pulled out.
The video highlights a local tradition that women complain can lead to "legalised rape and sexual abuse".
Once a woman is forced over the threshold of a man’s house, she is seen as having no way back to her family, especially if she is forced to have sex.
Police often turn a blind eye because men claim that “bride stealing” is “romantic” and the practice is rooted in history, even if the “groom” has never before met the woman he kidnaps.
One woman who was kidnapped aged 18 said: "It is something from the Middle Ages.
"The mother of the man who kidnapped me was conniving in me being forced into the bedroom with this man I didn’t know."
She fled after several days but said her family blamed her and never accepted her back.
"If the girl agrees, well I suppose it is okay, but if not it becomes legalised rape and sexual abuse," she said.
A new petition triggered by the appearance of this video – and demanding tougher laws to combat bride kidnapping – says: “Our women are being thrown into cars like sheep”.
In a second video in the same Caucasus region, South Ossestia, the “groom” ambushes a woman outside a shopping mall then drops her twice as he bundles her into a waiting car.
He does not check if she is hurt but forces her into a waiting car.
The petition, so far signed by just 975 mainly women, says: “We are against this humiliating of Ossetian girls in the tradition tradition of kidnapping brides – and further the posting of videos on Internet".
The video was posted by local woman Maria Pliyeva who was then attacked on social media for seeking to end the tradition.
One comment read: “Stupid girl you are.
“We have lost all traditions, and if we say no to kidnapping brides we will be just like (ethnic) Russians.
“It will be shameful to call ourselves a Ossetians without traditions”
Opponents of the tradition which is widespread in southern regions of the former USSR say men are seldom punished under existing laws.
The regional government in South Ossetia has not yet responded to the petition demanding new legislation.
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