Tag Archives: Trafficking

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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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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drugs in Chandigarh

Vrinda Sharma

Not even a gram of Drugs can be sold in Chandigarh without police’s knowledge. Everyone knows that the Police are involved, but still no steps are taken to check the senior IPS officers,” said Hemant Goswami, a social activist who filed a petition in The Punjab and Haryana High Court last week stating that despite having knowledge about links between IPS officers of Chandigarh and Punjab and drug cartel, neither the NCB, nor the police have taken any step to investigate the matter.
Hearing the petition on Friday, the court issued notices to Chandigarh Police, the Narcotics Control Bureau, the Chandigarh Administration and the Central Bureau of Investigation. The petition stated that Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) had revealed that many officers of the Chandigarh and Punjab Police had close association with the drug cartel and that illegal drug trade was being carried out in connivance with the police in the region.

According to NCB, Punjab contributes 75 per cent of the total drug seizures of the country. Recovering addicts at Narcotics Anonymous (NA) meeting say that the biggest impediment in the de addiction is the easy supply of drugs, “When my father realized that I am addicted to Drugs, he sent me to our ancestral village near Ludhiana, but drugs were available there also. It is actually very amusing because sometimes villagers have trouble finding a doctor but they find drugs easily,” said a NA member. “I don’t know who does the job of supplying drugs but they are easily available in every nook and corner of Punjab” he added.

Rajesh Sharma, President of All India Anti Terrorist Front (AIATF) said, “Each police officer in the city has full knowledge of all the drug suppliers in his area. It is a complex nexus, not just police officers but the entire department knows the workings of each drug dealer but no arrests are made because every body has a cut in the trade.”
NCB Director Saji Mohan refused to comment on police involvement in drugs, he said “It is beyond my preview to comment on this topic. I report to my seniors and not the media.” SSP Chandigarh Police, S S Srivastava, also completely denied having received any information, he said, “I have never received any names from the NCB, neither verbally not in writing. Whenever I will get the communication from the NCB, I will certainly initiate a probe into the matter.”

“This year we have seized over 60 kgs of Heroin along the border. Drugs are easily available in Punjab because it is on the border. With Afghanistan growing over 90 per cent of world’s opium, there is a lot of smuggling across the border especially in Amritsar and Ferozpur.”
According to Goswami, “Every official in the Police Department and NCB knows the people involved, but nobody takes action. I feel that Central Bureau of Investigation should investigate the matter in coordination with other agencies.”


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