The etiology of bride capture—taking a bride away for marriage by force—is manifold. Many sociologists and anthropologists have interpreted it as a rite of passage. If this is true, bride capture is in reality a “sham” capture, which often takes place with the tacit approval of both the husband's and wife's families, sometimes even after a formal betrothal ceremony. Another reason for the capture of women may have been to inflict disaster on an enemy group. Finally, in a few cases, a shortage of nubile females in a tribe may necessitate this practice.

When Europeans arrived in America, they discovered that the Guadeloupe Kalinago were accustomed to making trips back and forth between the mainland and the Windward Islands to capture brides. According to customary theories ...

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