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In drought-hit Maharashtra, young ‘brides’ have good resale value #Vaw

By Ganesh N, IE

With drought in , ‘selling’ and ‘reselling’ of brides is likely to become an increasingly lucrative business for nefarious elements—the bride agents. It has been known that the agents scour Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu to look for prospective brides for men from gender-skewed regions of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, western regions of Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Punjab. Maharashtra’s district, which has been officially tagged as one of the most backward districts in the country, has become one of favoured hunting spots for these agents.

A recent case, in which five adolescent girls went missing from the district, saw the political mercury in the district soar and the police swing into action. It was a 700-kilometre trail that the police had to follow. With the five girls from the slum being sold as ‘brides’ to desperate unmarried men in , a special team of the Maharashtra Police had to pursue the case in Ashok Nagar district in the neighbouring state. Led by Assistant Inspector Yogesh Pardhi, the team was determined to bring back the girls, aged between 16 and 20.

What Pardhi and his team learnt during the investigation was quite intriguing. The police had managed to arrest one of the agents who had sold one of the minor girls to a man from Shadora village in Ashok Nagar in Madhya Pradesh. Police team found out that the agents who sold off those women got Rs 30,000 to Rs 50,000 for every woman sold. However, one of the five girls from Chandrapur, who had been sold for Rs 30,000, had returned to her agent owing to the ill-treatment at the hands of her owner. The agent was too happy to resell her a second time and pocketed Rs 35,000. Pardhi had no answer as to why the girl did not return to her family when she had the opportunity, and instead approached her agent.

Though Pardhi had no answers, Shafiqur Rehman Khan of Campaign Against Bride Trafficking has them. “The ceremony solemnising such marriages are most appropriately called as Thag Vivah (cheat marriage). Rarely does the bride enjoy the social status of a wife. These women are either known as Paro brides, as in stolen, or Molki brides as in purchased,” said Khan. He explains brides have to physically satisfy more than one person and also double as labourer on the fields.

The trading of brides also means that the few genuine bride seekers are finding it difficult to ‘stay’ married. When a 50-year-old businessman from Jaipur in had married a bride from Maharashtra, he thought it was coincidence that the two brides that he had earlier purchased from agents had run away. In two months the man has spent Rs 2.50 lakh on three brides. However, his third bride from Maharashtra too ran away. Subsequent police investigation revealed that agents and the brides were hand-in glove and were sold again. The agents are finding selling brides more lucrative than dealing in brothels. And more than the buyers, the agents are more keen to sell brides owing to demand in northern states. Khan fears that with drought in Maharashtra, agents would have a field day recruiting new brides as poor families are happy to have one less mouth to feed.

Though Khan believes that it is difficult to put a precise number on the quantum of bride trafficking, he estimates that there are about dozen such brides in every village of . As agents come up with offers of new brides, the time spent by the bride in particular household is also limited. “The old brides are sold to procure new ones. It is very similar to the cattle market. The market for brides as per our study is growing steadily at the rate 20 per cent every year,” said Khan.

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  1. […] In drought-hit Maharashtra, young ‘brides’ have good resale value #Vaw (kractivist.wordpress.com) […]

  2. […] In drought-hit Maharashtra, young ‘brides’ have good resale value #Vaw (kractivist.wordpress.com) […]

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