Why do many women fear marriage? It’s not just about marital rape or dowry. With bride trafficking across states for money, exploitation in the garb of marriage occurs in many ways.
Yes, you read it right!
Women are seen as commodities and a form of cheap labour to be exploited under a patriarchal society. Female foeticide and gender imbalance have made the trade in brides a booming business in India.
Recently, I read a news report about a woman in Uttar Pradesh who was auctioned to a man by an agent for Rs.22,000. However, the man could not pay the agreed amount so the agent took the woman away whereupon, the man committed suicide.
The news report says that the agent is a trafficker in women and has been organising such auctions for a long time. Such stories are really bizarre and sad to read and hear.
I was shocked when I researched more about the topic of bride trafficking. It’s gruesome! Do you know that women are categorized on the basis of their age when they are auctioned? Apparently, girls below 18 years are sold for around 2 lakh and widows or older women are sold for Rs.50,000. Isn’t this disgusting?
It’s a lucrative business – mostly in India’s most backward villages, reason being, lack of education, lack of awareness and financial problems.
According to the research, there are many women who have been married by auctioning and are leading a miserable life. They are actually treated like commodities.
The Indian government has drafted anti-trafficking laws as well but just drafting the laws is not the only solution to stop this petrifying crime. What needs to change are the social norms and the mentality of people; only then people will respect women and value them.
In several Indian states where the ratio of women to men is extremely low, brides are either kidnapped or forced from other states by agents and are pressurized into this ruthless marriage.
There are innumerable stories of young girls married, only to be sexually abused and assaulted. Bride trafficking also puts women at a greater risk of abuse and isolation.
The trafficking of brides and marrying them to rich and elderly men has been prevalent for decades in the Old City of Hyderabad. The brides are sold as a package deal to men from the Gulf States. In some cases, when these brides accompany their husbands to their home countries, they are often forced into domestic servitude or sexual slavery.
Bride trafficking has turned into a pure business! This turns out to be a great disgrace for all of us.
A fifteen years old girl left school to help her mother stick beads on the bangles that tourists buy in the market of Charminar, Hyderabad. Her mother didn’t think that she was harming her daughter in any way by showing her to a man from a Gulf State for marriage. The mother believed that her daughter was getting married to a rich man and thus, would lead a happy life. By God’s grace, the young girl ran away and the marriage was called off.
This is trafficking in the guise of marriage as poor people are often manipulated into giving their daughters away in the hope that their daughters will be happy forever.
But this is not the case; once married, these women are often resold as they are not regarded as a respected member of the family or society and are often raped by men who are more than twice their age. Nothing could be worse than this where women are not valued even after they are allowed to be born.
I think it’s relevant to ask whether a woman’s body belongs to her at all. Can we look beyond gender identity?
This post was previously posted on Women’s Web.