Tag Archives: haryana

Brides purchased, then exploited in Haryana, Punjab

Decades of unchecked sex-selective abortions have made the once fertile States of Punjab and Haryana suffer a drought of brides, making human-trafficking a lucrative and expanding trade. Often projected as a voluntary marriage, every year, thousands of young women and girls are lured into the idea of a happy married life with a rich man in Punjab or Haryana. Sadly most ‘purchased brides’ are exploited, denied basic rights, duplicated as maids, and eventually abandoned.

Only solution

With skewed sex ratios (Punjab-893, Haryana-877 females per 1,000 males) it is impossible to find a bride for each man, and ‘importing a bride’ has become the only solution. Also, with the tradition of not marrying within the same village and eligible girls marrying the wealthiest suitor, often NRIs, the majority of men in villages are left unmarried and often addicted to drugs.

“What is wrong in marrying a poor girl? I demanded no dowry, rather her family’s social and economic position has improved,” said an agitated Prakash Singh of Harsola village in Kaithal (Haryana), when asked why he married a 19-year-old girl hailing from a poor village from Assam. Interestingly, Mr. Singh has three brothers and no sister; he does not believe that there is any dearth of women in his village.

“There were no eligible girls in our village or social circle. After my son turned 35, we realised that unless we accept a non-Punjabi girl he would never be married and no one would carry the family name forward; so we had to make arrangements,” said Mahinder Singh, an elderly man in Pohlo Majra, Fatehgarh Sahib (Punjab). The migration might seem to be a measure to correct the gender imbalance, but the ultimate goal is producing sons.

“Marriage to an imported bride makes caste, language and culture immaterial as long as the price is paid to the girl’s family and a male child is born. Depending on the age, looks and virginity of a girl, grooms pay anywhere from Rs. 50,000 and Rs. 300,000,” said Rishi Kant of Shakti Vahini, a non-governmental organisation working on the issue.

The obvious need gives the practice a social sanction and makes it look like a social service: Sushma Kaur of Pohlo Majra, who married a Sikh man 15 years elder to her, calls it a ‘blessing.’ “My uncle arranged the match, it was difficult in the beginning because of the new language and the culture, but my husband took care of me…My village in Bengal has an excess of females and no one to care for them, and it is a great service if I can arrange a matrimonial match. Ever since I got married, 10 years ago, over a dozen girls have followed me from Bengal,” she says with pride. She added that none of the girls were ill-treated; however, it was not unheard of.

A field study on the impact of sex ratio on the pattern of marriages in Haryana by Drishti Stree Adhyayan Prabodhan Kendra covering over 10,000 households, revealed that over 9,000 married women in Haryana were bought from other States. The study which covered 92 villages of Mahendragarh, Sirsa, Karnal, Sonepat, and Mewat districts said that most of the people accepted it as a common practice, but denied having bought a bride in their family.

Most untraceable

“In every village there are over 50 girls that have been bought; some of them as young as 13 and a very small percentage of the ‘sold for marriage’ women are found to be living a married life. Most are untraceable or exploited or duplicated as domestic servants by the agents or men who marry/buy them. There are also instances of girls being resold to other persons after living a married life for a few years,” the study added.

Most of them come from poverty-ridden villages of Assam, West Bengal, Jharkhand, Bihar and Orissa, because their families need money; and despite the prevalence of the dowry system in the north Indian states, men are ready to pay for a wife.


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bribe me with a Bride

Jind(Haryana): With a skewed sex ratio of 861 females to 1,000 males due to decade of female foeticide and a high unemployment rate, it is not surprise that men in Haryana have asked the politicians to ‘bribe them with a Bride’.

Over 250 bachelors assembled in Jind on Wednesday, to protest against the government for being unable to provide employment and brides to them. “Our motto is clear Bahu do; vote lo (give a bride and take a vote),” says Chief of the Bachelors Union, Pawan Kunwara, who has changed his sur name to –Kunwara(bachelor), “being a bachelor is my only identity,” he explains.

On being asked why he choose the issue of unemployment and female foeticide he said that, “The two are not separate, I can’t get a wife because there are hardly any girls and if somehow there is a girl, chances are her father will refuse me because I don’t have a job. Hence to solve the problems of the Haryanavi youth, these two issues have to be solved together.”

Ahead of the Assembly elections on 13th Aug, the bachelors are demanding that political parties make promises of weddings and jobs instead of farm waivers. “The question is not about us being unmarried, it shows that educated men can’t find wives. No one will marry his daughter to an unemployed person. And instead of wavering off debt, we should provide new avenues of employment, so that no one has to take a loan.” But political parties have nothing more then a promised monthly allowance of Rs 3,000 for the educated unemployed.

Brainless sex preference and preference of a male child has made one of the most fertile lands of the country a matrimonial wasteland and presence of unemployment amongst the youth has added to the woes of the Bachelors. “The number of our unemployed bachelors would outnumber most countries’ armies, and still people think it is funny. It is high time we take a step to stop female foeticide and provide employment options to men,” Mr Kunwara added.

The sex ratio of 861 females to 1,000 males the absence of marriageable women has given boost to the crime of trafficking. In many villages of Haryana, wealthy men have to purchase brides from other states as there is a shortage of marriageable females, which is due to rampant Female foeticide.


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declining sex ratio forces ‘import’ of brides

CHANDIGARH: Declining sex ratios have compelled farmers of Punjab to “import” brides from states such as Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa and Uttar Pradesh leading to large-scale trafficking of women in the State. Usually, the girls are between 12 and 17 years of age.

“There isn’t any choice. Either you buy a bride or remain a bachelor who has no sons to inherit his property,” says Malkeet Singh (27) of Fatehgarh Sahib district. Scarcity of marriageable girls in his village, 40 km from here, compelled him to shop for a bride. He followed in the footsteps of his uncles and paid Rs.25,000 for his wife from a poverty-ridden village in Bihar.

According to the 2001 census, Punjab has a sex ratio of 793 girls for 1,000 boys. Fatehgarh Sahib has the country’s worst sex ratio of 754 girls for 1,000 boys (0-6 age bracket).

“Decades of sex-determination tests followed by female foeticide have resulted in an even more shameful sociological phenomenon wherein women have been reduced to son-producing machines. Women who fail to produce sons are sent back, sold or abandoned,” says Manvinder Kaur, Reader at the Centre for Women Studies, Punjab University.

No data is available on the number of girls trafficked into Punjab, but every village has a number of “bought brides”.

The trade is being carried on by the second and third generation victims. Malkeet’s aunt, Kusum Devi, also from Bihar, managed his alliance. “Marrying their daughters is a relief for the families, especially when they receive money instead of having to pay a dowry.”

According to Ameer Sultana of the Centre for women Studies at Punjab University: “Girls who are bought from poor homes are never considered equal. They have no rights and even after many years she knows that she is a commodity, which is used and often shared by all the men in the family.”

According to Ms. Kaur, “The females trafficked into this region will not correct the sex ratio as they are meant to produce only males. Education is not a solution as most of the foeticide cases reported are of educated women. We need a massive drive to make people aware of the ground realities because both tradition and technology have started to favour female foeticide. Going by the rate at which girls are going missing from Punjab and Haryana they would be a rare sight soon.”

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trauma of a village- the honour killing tale

KAITHAL: Two days after five people were given the capital punishment by a court for the so-called honour-killing of a young couple here in Haryana, the family members of the victims are more tense than they are relieved. “The verdict has done justice to my son’s death, but it has not changed the way the village works,” says Chandrapati Berwal who fought the legal battle.

She is the mother of Manoj, who along with Babli was murdered three years ago by Babli’s relatives on the orders of a ‘khap panchayat’ for having married within the same gotra. But Tuesday’s landmark verdict seems to have made little difference to the minds of the votaries of the system of ‘khap panchayats’, which are caste-based.

“The panchayat only intended to bring about a moral balance and inculcate honour in youngsters, although its method was perhaps a bit too harsh,” said a resident of the village, who refused to reveal his name. Asked about the verdict, he said: “The panchayat killed two persons and the court will kill five. At the end of it all the village has lost seven lives. I don’t see justice in any of the verdicts.”

“The villagers, who have boycotted us socially and financially, will not change their mindset. The verdict has given a milder form of punishment to the actual instigator, sarpanch Ganaga Raj,” said Ms. Chandrapati. She alleged that panchayats could get away with giving such harsh orders and executing them only owing to political backing and the inefficiency of the police. For the last three years one police constable has been guarding her doors, but since the verdict on Tuesday the police presence around her house in Kerora village has increased. “Earlier there was one man, now there are two jeeps. But I and my daughter are as unsafe as we ever were. The police could do nothing when a few goons went after my son and his wife. What will the police do if all of them barge into my house at once?”

A tense calm prevails in the dusty village. Nobody will publicly discuss the matter, and except in Ms. Chandrapati’s house none dares to talk about it even indoors. Village sarpanch Karambeer Singh refused even to come out of his house. The street where Babli once lived wears a pall of gloom. The women in Babli’s maternal house sit with stony expressions and refuse to identify themselves or talk to anyone, especially mediapersons, who are often seen as the villains who exaggerated the issue.

“They tried to hide their sin from us, and then they tried to threaten, boycott and even bribe us so that we keep quiet. My son will not return but they will bear the pain of their wrongs so that such inhuman decisions are never taken by anyone,” she said.

A few kilometres from Ms. Chandrapati’s village, in Matour village, Hari Krishan cries with his son’s photographs in his hands. His hope is that a similar judgment would come in his case as well: his 23-year-old son was lynched by a crowd for marrying a girl from the neighbouring village. Ved Pal and his wife Sonia’s marriage was accepted by both the families as they were of the same caste although the gotras differed. But later the ‘khap panchayat’ instigated Sonia’s family to forcibly marry the 17-year-old to a 50-year-old man and later kill Ved Pal.

“My son was killed by a mob because a panchayat felt that marrying a girl from the neighbouring village was ‘incest’. And I was expected to make peace with this explanation? After this verdict I feel that unlike the politicians and the police, the law is not going to be unjust to us. But the sarpanch [Ganga Raj] should have been given the death penalty as he was the root cause of the trouble,” said Mr. Hari Krishan.

Mr. Hari Krishan, who has cancer, said he too was approached by the sarpanch of Sonia village for a compromise. “They offered me Rs.25 lakh. They think a father can forgive his son’s murderer just because he is poor. I will fight this case till the last drop of blood.”

This father then cried out aloud, and asked: “Because of the khap so many families have lost their breadwinners. Why didn’t they let them live? What honour comes from giving widows and orphans to homes that were otherwise happy?”

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another ‘honour killing’ brings shame to Haryana

Vrinda Sharma

CHANDIGARH: The recent case of shameful killing of a 21-year-old, who went to Singhwal, 165 km from here, to bring his wife home after the court had ordered that she be freed from her parents’ illegal custody, is a proof of the supremacy of Khap Panchayats over law and police. Ved Pal Mor, who was lynched by villagers of Singhwal for marrying a girl of his Gotra, had the quiet assurance of having the might of law behind him, which did not measure up to the powerful caste Panchayat.

Ved, who practised medicine in Singhwal village, had fallen in love with Sonia, a local girl, however, her parents arranged her marriage with another youth. About a week before the wedding, they eloped and got married but the khap Panchayat of Banwala gotra, objected to their alliance on the grounds that the two villages shared boundary and there was ‘bhaichara’ (brotherhood) between them. In a fiendish display of authority the khap (caste) Panchayat, on March 20 issued a directive to kill the couple and save the honour of the community, prompting the youth to approach the court. The couple, who had started living in Matour village, was provided protection but the khap managed to separate the duo and bring the girl to her parents home about a month back, where she was kept in ‘illegal confinement’.

Ved took legal recourse and armed with a High Court order and accompanied by policemen, he had gone to his in-laws’ house where around 400 people attacked him. His body was placed on the main road for hours, before the administration removed it on Thursday morning. Police denies allegations of inaction by the victim’s family; Jind SP Satish Balan said on Thursday, ‘‘As soon as the team reached the village, Pal disappeared in the dark. By the time the policemen spotted him again, he was being thrashed by a mob.” He added that a case has been registered against the girl’s parents and 12 other villagers on the complaint of the warrant officer.

In Haryana, especially rural areas, caste Panchayats hold great influence and almost dictate social life and prohibit marriage within the same Gotra. A Gotra is the lineage or clan assigned to a Hindu at birth. Marriages within the gotra are banned as people within the gotra are regarded as kin and marrying such a person would be thought of as incest. According to All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA) Haryana and Punjab alone account for 10 per cent of all honour killings in the country

One reason for the increased visibility of such crimes is the trend of more and more girls joining educational institutions, meeting others from different backgrounds and castes and establishing relationships beyond the confines of caste and community.

There is no category of crime, where parents kill their children for marrying the wrong person, in government records and there is refusal even to recognise this phenomenon. Data for such incidents are seldom available and they would mostly be classified under the category of general crimes. Unlike the recent cases where the police protection fled the victim, such cases do not gather media attention and often go unreported where first information reports (FIRs) are not filed and post-mortems are never conducted.

The worst part of the incident is that three days after Ved Pal was lynched by a mob, the police have failed to arrest the accused though they claim to have identified those involved in the crime. Also no action has been taken against the policemen who fled the spot only Narwana’s SHO has been suspended for failing to protect the life of the boy despite court orders. The state’s illegal khap Panchayats have also been doling out extra-judicial rulings to couples for violating social norms in getting married. The local administration, police and politicians also keep away from such killings and illegal decisions of community Panchayats, given the domination of the Jat community in the state.

The body, which the villagers had left on the road, has been cremated and around 100 policemen have been deployed in the two villages as authorities suspect that Sonia could be the next target.

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