‘Sold At 13 For ₹10,000’: Hard-Hitting Photos Of Trafficked Brides In Haryana

Patriarchy is a demon that often works in insidious ways, but in many parts of the world it is still a blatant, brutally enforced way of life. In Haryana, Punjab, and Western UP, trafficking of brides is a booming business fuelled by skewed sex ratios (830 women for every 1000 men) arising out of rampant female foeticide. Known derogatorily as Paros or Molkis, the trafficked women, often coming from poor villages in Assam, West Bengal, Jharkhand and Odisha, are treated literally as property – sold and resold between various men, forced into bonded labour and prostitution, and physically and sexually abused.

The following photos are taken from a report by Hindustan Times in 2014. While efforts have been made since then to rescue trafficked women as well as systematically halt trafficking, the larger reality seems to be the same.These photos provide a haunting glimpse into the lives of these women, for whom freedom is but a word.

Mohini, a trafficked bride in Haryana shows burn marks inflicted on her through her husband on March 15, 2014 in Mewat, India. All of her family members died in 2001 earthquake in Bhuj in Gujarat. Later a man brought her to Hisar at the age of 13 and sold her to a truck driver for Rs 10,000/- . Now she lives with six children as her husband left her after two years of marriage.


Gayatri, one of the trafficked girls who were lured into marriage by traffickers, cooking food at her house.


Paros or trafficked brides often have to work as bonded labour in the fields and as domestic help.


Sayedan, a paro who was trafficked at the age of 12 from Bangladesh by a local man of Mewat.


Rubina, a Paro originally from Assam, was forced into marriage at 16. Widowed, she now lives in a hut on the outskirts of Guhana village after she was thrown out by her in-laws.


Subia, a Paro who was trafficked from Assam showing her injury marks showing how she is brutally beaten by her husband.


Razia was trafficked from Bihar’s Bhagalpur district at age of 14 and was pushed out of the family by her step sons. “This is the empire of my husband which is now with his sons. And I am made to live like a beggar,” she says.


Mariam was trafficked at the  age of 12 from Assam, is now living in a very bad situation. The demand for ‘marriageable age’ girls is so intense that organised trafficking rackets have started operating in Haryana, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh, noted a 2013 report commissioned by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.


Zakir Hussain, the sarpanch of Luhinga Khurd village, talking about Bride Trafficking: “Families here don’t give their daughters to men who are older than 20, poor, handicapped or widowed. If you belong to any of these categories, you will have to buy a bride.”


Ghausia Khan, a bride trafficking survivor, is a member of the district legal aid authority, Mewat, Haryana and a worker with Empower People, an NGO which deals with trafficking cases. Khan helps women in distress to find lawyers and provides them with legal information and at times, monetary assistance.

All photos via Subrata Biswas/HT Photos