The abduction and murder of a 27-year-old woman from a busy street in the capital of Kyrgyzstan has unleashed pent-up anger at the government's failure to curb the so-called tradition of bride-kidnapping.
This week, hundreds of women and rights activists have marched in central Bishkek against police indifference to women's rights after the murder of Aizada Kanatbekova.
A security camera captured three men bundling her into a car in Bishkek on Monday, with passers-by looking the other way, in what campaigners say bears all the hallmarks of a bride-kidnapping, known as Ala kachuu.
Her body was found two days later in the abandoned car outside Bishkek. Alongside her was the body of one of her kidnappers. Police said that he had killed himself with a knife. She had been strangled.
"Society must respond to injustice. This can happen to anyone," said Meerim Osomonova, a 31-year-old blogger who went to the protests. "And Ala kachuu is not a tradition. It is beneficial for this system to cover up its illegal actions with alleged 'traditions'."
Notoriously macho Kyrgyzstan is renowned for its poor record on women's rights. Last year when masked men attacked a women's rights march, policemen detained the women marchers and allowed their attackers to go free. In 2019, a feminist art exhibition in Bishkek was vandalised.
Activists say Kyrgyzstan's real shame is its domestic abuse. This is common enough in Kyrgyzstan not to make headlines but in 2018 it did after Burulai Turdaaly Kyzy, a student nurse, was stabbed to death in a police station by the man who had twice tried to abduct her.
Bride-kidnapping is seen by many Kyrgyz as the romantic tradition of a gallant nomad claiming a wife. Campaigners say that this has never been the case and just excuses violence against women.
Successive Kyrgyz governments have acknowledged that women's rights need more protection, bride-kidnapping was outlawed in 2013 and the law against domestic abuse was strengthened, but raising awareness and changing attitudes is more difficult.
Syinat Sultanalieva, a researcher at Human Rights Watch, said that police largely ignore bride-kidnapping.
“It is generally perceived as part of Kyrgyz culture and as such is largely ignored by the authorities as a family matter,” she said.
In 2018, after the murder of Turdaaly Kyzy, the UN said that 13.8 per cent of married women in Kyrgyzstan under the age of 24 had been coerced into marriage.