Credible commitment to demonstrated virginity loss?

Several Circassian men boasted to me that they had kidnapped or "stolen" their wives, in order to force them to marry them.  At first I was shocked, but the situation was not in fact what it sounded like.  Far from being effectively the rape of an unwilling woman, Circassian bride-stealing is a strategic step taken to force her unwilling parents to agree to her getting married.  The stealing is ritualized, and accompanied by a volley of gunshots to alert the parents that it has happened.  The couple would never be alone together, and the groom's uncle would normally be employed as an emissary to sound out the prospective in-laws.

If they relented — which they almost always do — and agreed to the match, she would return home immediately, and the wedding would be prepared.  If they did not agree, she would go to live with the groom's uncle until the wedding.

That is from Oliver Bullough's Let Our Fame be Great: Journeys Among the Defiant People of the Caucasus.


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