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Soviet Period

In the Soviet period, the centralized government created a new family law when it presented countries with decrees, codes, and other acts. Turkestan, which included Kyrgyzstan, accepted the Soviet orders and decisions explaining the Family Code of 1918. The new legislation was carried out slowly because the population was still under the powerful influence of local clergy, aristocrats, and customary law judges (biev). The biev were wealthy elders informally chosen by the community, discretely maintained by the ruling class (baev) in the patriarchal-feudal aristocracy and imperial administration to keep peace between the classes. Their rulings were oral.

When they created the code, the Soviets did not take into account the conditions of the region. The people were used to living according to custom and Muslim law. Because of this situation, the Soviet Union subsequently permitted Islamic judges (kaziev) and the biev to decide family disputes by application of both the Family Code of 1918 and traditional norms, unless those norms were inconsistent with the Family Code. The Soviet Union also recognized household and national traditions in 1924 when the legal institution of adoption under customary law was restored in Turkestan. In general, however, Kyrgyzstan leaders were limited in their ability to regulate family relations and generally followed Soviet laws and rules.

The Marxist-Leninist government encouraged the "liberation" of women from the home and into the workforce, particularly in the urban areas. Under Soviet rule, women were given equal access to employment, protection under family law, and social-support provisions. Girls were required to attend school. The Soviets prohibited bride-price and dowry, but officials rarely enforced the prohibition, and the practice remained common.

During the Soviet era, public law, not civil or private law, governed family relations. Many government decisions show this policy. To encourage motherhood, the Soviet government prohibited abortion in a 1936 decision. Women who had abortions in violation of that prohibition were punished under the Criminal Code until 1955.

During World War II, the government opened many orphanages to care for children whose parents had been killed in the war. On September 8, 1943, the Decree of Presidium of the Supreme Soviet "On Adoption" was issued to encourage adoption of these children. The Presidium enacted an edict on July 8, 1944, that specified that only a marriage registered with the state was accorded rights and obligations. This edict also made divorce very difficult and abolished paternity proceedings. From February 15, 1947, to January 21, 1954, marriages between foreigners and Soviet citizens were prohibited.

The Supreme Soviet enacted completely new family legislation on October 1, 1968. These "Fundamental Principles of Legislation on Marriage and the Family" were followed in 1969 by new family codes in the fifteen Soviet Republics. This 1969 Family Code remains in effect in the Kyrgyz Republic at the beginning of the twenty-first century. Under Soviet rule, the central marriage code was designed to establish equality between spouses, secularize marriage, and make divorce simple and accessible to both partners.

The constitution of the Kyrgyz Soviet Socialist Republic in 1978 established the protection of family as a constitutional principle. Other legislation mandated equality of men and women, the strengthening of the family, and the protection of children.

Additional topics

Marriage and Family EncyclopediaMarriage: Cultural AspectsKyrgyzstan - Prerevolutionary Period, Soviet Period, Independence, Conclusion