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Sold into marriage: National shame over India's trafficked brides

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
4/9/2014 (3 years ago)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Women are sold by families into lives of poverty, servitude

It's something you would expect in scattered, rural sections in developing nations, and not in the world's largest democracy. Women in India are routinely sold by families into forced marriages, who are then passed around by other husbands. According to the non-governmental agency Empower People, a 2011 survey around one million such women, "trafficked brides"  scattered in the northern Indian states of Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh.

Girls between the ages of 13 and 21 are the ones in most demand. The maximum price for a young girl is $333 in U.S. dollars.

Girls between the ages of 13 and 21 are the ones in most demand. The maximum price for a young girl is $333 in U.S. dollars.

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
4/9/2014 (3 years ago)

Published in Asia Pacific

Keywords: India, trafficked brides, abuse


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - There are as many as 50,000 cases of women who have been trafficked and lured into fake marriages in Mewat district alone. They are trafficked from all over India, mainly from the impoverished states of Assam, Jharkhand, Orissa and Bihar in eastern India.

"Sometimes they are kidnapped, sometimes their parents are misled and lured by the middlemen who offer a better life in bigger cities," Shafeeq Khan, chief of Empower People, which has rescued 800 trafficked women in the last eight years, says.

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"The middlemen conduct fake marriages of these girls to satisfy the parents, who being poor do not double check."

Trafficked brides are usually kept by a family, where they are physically and sexually abused by all the men, denied proper food and made to work for long hours in fields.

One of the factors driving this trend is the demand for cheap labor to cultivate land.

"Getting women like this is cheap. They give sexual pleasure as well. You buy them for a certain amount and there is no need to pay them daily wages. You also get a certain amount of your money back by selling them again," Khan says. Hiring a male laborer would be too expensive for many poor families.

Girls between the ages of 13 and 21 are the ones in most demand. The maximum price for a young girl is $333 in U.S. dollars. Their price decreases as they are exchanged by more and more people, Khan says.

These women face stigmatization, designated as either "Paro," which means traded, or "Molki," which means "bought" by local villagers.

After they are sold four to five times, these women are often dumped on a physically handicapped person, beggar or outcast -- or abandoned to fend for themselves. These women, illiterate and traumatized, have few options other than begging or working as wage laborers in brick kilns or construction.

Yet another problem that stems from this issue is that children born to these women are considered illegitimate, are often illiterate and are not accepted by mainstream society.

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