Noriko Hayashi, a photojournalist based in Tokyo, spent four months in Kyrgyzstan last year to document the mysterious bride kidnappings in the Central Asian country.

In early September, Hayashi, 29, became the first Japanese photographer to win the Visa d'or feature award at the Visa pour l'Image Festival in Perpignan, southern France, for a series of photos he shot depicting the kidnapping of a woman for a forced marriage.

One of the photos shows a wailing 22-year-old woman who had been kidnapped by a high school teacher she met about 10 days before, being forced by one of his relatives to marry him.