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“Grooms Pay Anywhere From Rs. 50,000 And Rs. 3,00,000”: Story Of Haryana’s Imported Wives

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By Zoya Sham:

In India, women are mistreated at every juncture of their lives. Sometimes, the troubles start even before birth. Female feticide and infanticide are practices that have deep roots in modern Indian society, where the girl child is yet to be fully accepted. Sex selective abortions and killing or abandoning female infants have taken place for decades. Now, these practices have come back to haunt the people of Haryana.

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons
Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Their solution? More atrocities against women.

As children of the previous generation grow up to be of marriageable age in Haryana, there are not enough women to wed the men. This ‘drought’ of brides has given rise to the trend of ‘importing’ women from other states like Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Odisha, Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Kerala, Assam, Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh etc. They are bought, brought, or trafficked into the state for the sole purpose marrying a Haryanvi man.

According to a study conducted by the Central Statistical Organization, the population of girl child was 15.88 per cent of the total female population of 496.5 million in 2001, which declined to 12.9 per cent of 586.47 million women in 2011. This amounts to a shortfall of around 3 million girls in 10 years. Additionally, the SRS statistical report in 2012 showed the sex ratio in Haryana to be 857 women to a 1000 men, making it the most sex ratio-skewed state in the country and giving rise to the molki phenomenon (‘molki’ literally means ‘one who has a price’).

This bizarre practice of putting a price on a women’s marriageability has become commonplace in Haryana. Trafficking brides from different states has developed into a profitable business. Depending on the age, looks and virginity of a girl, grooms pay anywhere from Rs. 50,000 and Rs. 3,00,000. The molki becomes the property of the man and his family after marriage, who does whatever they deem fit. She is forced to do domestic work and denied basic human rights. In our regressive society, which is strongly opposed to inter-caste marriages, molkis are mistreated and insulted by their in-laws and discriminated against in the communities for belonging to a different caste. They also endure physical and sexual abuse from their husbands.

Furthermore, they undergo a cultural shock in their new environments. Omna, married into Haryana from Kerala tells Hindustan Times, “In our home state, only Muslim women stay behind veil, but, here, it is mandatory for all married women.” It was difficult for her to develop a taste for the northern food and cope up with scorching summers and freezing winters. Understanding the local language and following restrictive social norms adds to her problems. In another interview, Rubina, originally from Assam says, “We belong nowhere. We are treated like animals. If a man has to choose between leaving, a local woman or one from outside, he kicks us out; if a man is in need of money, we are sold.

As the root of the problem is the dismal attitude towards the girl child, the government has undertaken initiatives to change this mindset. The ‘selfie with daughter’ contest that took place recently in the state and the ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao‘ campaign are examples of initiatives to raise awareness on the issue. Ministers are also taking measures to control illegal activities like sex determination procedures. However, methods to prevent the trafficking of young women from becoming ‘purchased brides’ and promoting the welfare of the women that have already been married, must also be employed.

You must be to comment.
    1. Zoya Sham

      What I meant in the opening statement was that as an infant, the girl child often has to struggle for acceptance in the family as compared to a boy. As a child , she has to struggle for equal education, as an adolescent she faces the pressure to marry rather than pursue her professional life and as an adult, she is expected to follow patriarchal standards of domesticity rather than pursue her own individuality. I realise that there are exceptions to this. The opening statement was not meant as an absolute.

    2. B

      It is men who are not seen as human beings in society, but work machines. Civilization has been built on the bodies on dead men. It is men who are thrust in the army. It is men who work the most dangerous jobs. It is men who work menial jobs. It is men who work as labourers, cleaners, servants, drivers, construction workers, in lock factories, as mechanics, in restaurants, as street-vendors, at tea stalls, as electricians, plumbers, carpenters, woodcutters, rickshaw pullers, etc. Also, please explain to me why women on women violence is not covered by feminists, why a committing suicide in India every 6 minutes is not screaming headlines, why women are released in hostage situations before men, why are lifeboats reserved for women, why do men have to leave seats for women, why it is men who have to pay alimony, why women receive lighter sentences for the same crimes committed by men, why dowry is a woman’s issue despite more harassment from wives, why men have to pay child support, why child custody is always given to women, why 95% of work related deaths are of men, why most homeless are men, why verbal and psychological abuse from wives is not included in domestic violence statistics, why quotas are in place for women in companies and parliament, why seats are reserved for women in buses and metros, why news channels announce ‘women’ and children, why men have to earn for women but not the other way around, why most dangerous jobs are worked by men, why media only focuses on women’s issues, why the lynching of an innocent man falsely accused of rape in Nagaland was not news, even though it was as horrendous as Nirbhaya, if not more.

  1. Khogen

    Most successfull sucides are commited by men but let me tell u B more women attempt sucides then men without success.

  2. Khogen

    Most successfull sucides are commited by men but let me tell u B more women attempt sucides then men without success. Check wikipedia Mr. B

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

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