Shotgun wedding, AK-47-style

Armed to the teeth, a Cambodian man forces his sweetheart to say yes.

By Jack Boulware

Published June 30, 2000 7:00PM (EDT)

We are familiar with the concept of a "shotgun marriage," in which the bride's family (usually the father) forces a young man to take the daughter's hand in conjugal bliss, inspiring him with the barrel of a loaded shotgun. This matrimonial device has been taken to an interesting extreme in Cambodia, where a man recently convinced a woman to marry him with an AK-47 assault rifle.

According to news reports, a young woman named Nha Thavy and her family had denied an offer of marriage from Hout Sitha, 35. The prospective groom took the news badly, whipping out an AK-47 and taking the entire family hostage. (Guns are plentiful in Cambodia despite a public confiscation program, because of three decades of civil wars.)

But taking his potential bride wasn't enough for Sitha. His passions were aroused. His heart was inflamed with desire. He needed to prove his love for her beyond all doubt. He also brought along a bucket of gasoline. Now the counteroffer was complete: Give me your blessing and allow me to marry your daughter, or I will shoot you all dead and burn down your house.

Sitha proceeded to hold the bride and her family in a standoff for several hours. Police arrived and attempted to negotiate the dispute but failed. Finally, members of Sitha's own family stepped in and devised a settlement agreeable to all.

And after the nod was given from both families, after the police cars had left the scene, after the gasoline can had been removed, after the assault rifle had been set down, Sitha was allowed to reiterate his connubial inquiry and Thavy at last accepted his offer. Such is love.

Jack Boulware

Jack Boulware is a writer in San Francisco and author of "San Francisco Bizarro" and "Sex American Style."

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