Wednesday, October 20, 2010

1.Research Studies/surveys
2.Evaluation of the Programmes Implemented by the Government/NGOs
3.Feasibility Studies/Cost Benefit Analyses
6.Capacity Building
7.Training & Orientation
8.Facilitation and Direct Execution of the Development Projects
9.Computerization of Data and its Analysis

EMPOWER PEOPLE has a wide range of experience on the following major development issues.

1.Reproductive and Child Health
2.ICDS: Non-formal Education
3.Adult Education
4.Primary & Higher Education
5.Women Empowerment
6.Development of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes
7.Development of Minorities
8.Empowerment of Disabled Persons
9.Micro-enterprise Development
10.Skill Enhancement
11.SHG Formation and Capacity Building
12.Awareness Generation 

Geographic area

Himachal Pradesh
Madhya Pradesh
Uttar Pradesh
West Bengal 

Area of Interest

Monday, October 18, 2010

the news 2

the news

EP in news

Monday, July 19, 2010

These brides were bought for Rs 3,000 Villagers in Haryana Mewat district buy women for a pittance from Assam and other N-E states

Nuh (Haryana): In Nagina, a non-descript village in Haryana about 100 kilometres South of Delhi, you do not need a Javed Akhtar to tell you that women in North-east are being traded. Here, you — notwithstanding your age, physical status or financial condition — can actually buy a woman.

All you need to have is a few thousand rupees in your pocket, the strength to traverse 500 metres through slushy streets to reach Roddar, a middle-aged man with over half a dozen kids and equal number of hens. There is every possibility that Roddar will jump at your demand, be prepared to lead you to Assam and show you number of girls to choose from. He may even introduce you to local people from whom he bought Assamese girls or his own wife Bano (25) for Rs 3,000.

“I can buy him a woman anytime. Come with me to Guwahati. Pay for train tickets, food and girl’s parents. You can pay my fee (Rs 3,000) later,” Roddar rattles off as we introduce an ‘eligible’ youth to him. Like any other good trader, Roddar lines up options for us. “Contract de do Rs 15,000 mein. I’ll take care of every thing. Or pay the girl’s parents directly and pay my charges later,” he proposes.

Ask him the details of intended travel to Guwahati and he opens up. He names a place which is around 30 kilometres from the Assamese capital and is his sasural also. His wife Bano butts in and assures us that her parents will arrange for the girl and act as guarantor. He boasts he has supplied thousands of Assamese girls in his region.

Ask for evidence and he brings forward Ramesh, a local youth in Nagina whom he bought an Assamese girl. Roddar claims he at times even brings group of women from Assam and presents them before prospective buyers at his home.

Roddar is not alone who pimps for women from North-east. In almost every hamlet of 550 village-strong Mewat, the newly-created district in Haryana, you find people who bought women from Assam, West Bengal or Bihar for themselves, developed local contracts there and got headlong into the sordid trade. During our travel through Hathin, Nuh and Firozpur Zirka, three major towns of Mewat district, we came across dozens of such pimps.

In fact, every other person who has fetched a woman from the North-eastern states (called Paros in local parlance), gets offers from families of youth who are not getting married for one reason or the other. “People ask me to arrange match and offer me Rs 10,000 to Rs 20,000. But I cannot do this,” says Illiyas (40), a rickshaw puller on the outskirts of Nagina who bought Sakina (30) after the death of his first wife. Unfortunately for the investigative agencies, the pimps can only be accessed through local contacts they rely on and the slightest of suspicion drives them away.

Roddar slunk away into a bylane the moment a local contact of his grew suspicious of us and alerted him. The pimps take advantage of dowry system and poverty prevalent in the North-eastern region.

Since Haryana is considered prosperous, it makes even easier for them to convince the girl’s parents. Besides, the male-female ratio in Haryana, and particularly Mewat region, is badly skewed against the girl child and this forces the Mewatese men to look east and shun dowry.

Surprisingly, the administration which launched a campaign against the pimps of women trade in 2003, seems to have lost its momentum since. Superintendent of Police (SP) Sukhdev Singh said the police had received no complaints and were told in most cases that the people brought women with the latter’s consent.

Indecent proposal “Contract de do Rs 15,000 mein. I’ll buy you a girl. Or pay the girl’s parents directly and pay my charges later,” proposes Roddar the pimp Flow-chart of the flesh trade

*Male-female ratio in Haryana, especially in Mewat district, is skewed against the girl child and hence problem of finding a bride

* On the other hand, in Assam, poverty and the prevalent dowry system force parents to sell off daughters for a pittance. The image of Haryana as a prosperous state also boosts the sordid trade

* Brides are sold for as low as Rs 3,000. Assam or North-eastern states are not the only suppliers. Bihar and West Bengal too figure on the list

* Police officials in Haryana say they can’t act unless they receive complaints, claim these marriages are mostly consensual

-- Narendra Kaushik

Haryana buying brides from other states

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

In Haryana it is still cheaper and easier to buy a ready-made bride from Kerala or Assam than bringing up your own daughters. And sometimes such outsourced marriages take a very ugly turn.

Thirteen -year-old Moena Majhi from 24 Paraganas in West Bengal was conned into marrying Ashok, a widower from Haryana.

“They lied to my parents that they will give me a good life and food to eat and all that,” Moena says.

She says her in-laws were unsympathetic and her husband repeatedly raped her. Two months into the forced marriage, Moena made two unsuccessful attempts to run-away.

“First time when I ran, I was caught and beaten up with a stick. Second time, again Ashok's family caught me. They slapped and thrashed me. I worked in the kitchen, cleaned clothes, cleaned the house, and milked the cow. If I said no, I was beaten up. My leg still hurts,” Moena recalls the atrocities committed against her.

Her horrors came to an end when a Delhi-based NGO Prayas rescued Moena. She is undergoing counselling to get over the trauma of sexual assault.

“Every night he would force me to undress. If I tried to stop him he would beat me up,” Moena says. “He would beat me up everyday, remove my clothes and do bad things to me,” she adds.

Moena’s mother-in-law, however, insists nothing was wrong with her son's marriage to a 13-year-old.

Mera ladka bhi aa jaye moina bhi aa jaye aur phir usska ghar bas jaye (I want Moena and my son to come back), Ashok’s mother Savitri says.

Apart from being marriages of convenience, these alliances come with another cause of concern.

“They tend to look down upon these women and don't give them their real status. There are instances when they are even resold to defray the cost. So several change hands very rapidly. So they are exploited not only labour-wise but also sexually,” social scientist Prem Chowdhury explains.

The Pre-natal Diagnostic Treatment Act (PNDT) has been in force for more than a decade now but till date only two people have been convicted for selective-sex abortion crimes.

The authorities say the problem lies at the grassroots.

“The importance of the subject wasn't understood by various implementing agencies. They brushed it under the carpet. Some of them actually believed they were doing the man a favour,” Minister for Women and Child Development Renuka Chowdhury says.

And these outsourced brides who are pressurised to abort daughters can also be punished under the PNDT Act. The absence of any anti-trafficking laws in India ensure the police just looks the other way.

“Trafficking as such is not on a very large scale. One or two cases, incidents when they come to us we deal with them as per law. As of now I would say in Fatehabad district human trafficking is not prevalent,” claims SSP Fatehabad Saurabh Singh.

Such is the skewed sex ratio that Dr Godbole, the Director of Bal Gram in Haryana's Sonepat district is flooded with desperate requests by marriage hopefuls.

Humare yahnan 100-200 log aate hai shaadi ke liye. Aur wo kehte hai ki agar aap ke yahan se ladkiya hamein nahi milegi toh hamein Bihar aur UP se mol lenii padegi (We get about 100-200 people who want to get married. They say that if we can’t find them a bride, they will have to go and bring in one from Bihar or UP),” Dr Godbole says.

Dr Godbole's institution has many more abandoned girls to care for than boys.

Pitaji ke guzarne ke baad meri mummy ke paas zyada paise nahi the. Woh humara kharcha nahi kar sakti thi. Phir unhone humme yahan pe chhodha. Waise ghar me mummy rakhna chahe toh le jaa sakti hai mummy (My mother left me here because she could not afford to take care of me after my father passed away. If she wants to come and take me back home, she can,” one of the girls at Bal Gram says.

Girls still remain the second sex. Lack of any stringent law enforcement and Government-supported programs like Ladli, Apna Beti Apna Dhan, integrated child welfare and the National Cradle Scheme are yet to transform prevailing social biases.

The authorities claim they are doing their best to overcome the issue.

“We are launching huge awareness programme. You will also see a national campaign being launched now, and then our help lines are being universalised where people can call and complain. We have a very good response where public-private partnership has come forward,” Renuka Chowdhury says.

Despite the PNDT act, sex determination and abortion clinics of Haryana continue to thrive.

The latest Global Gender Gap Report places India at a dismal 114 out 128 countries, lower than Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.

Across India, women are bought, sold, trafficked, raped and married off without consent. It is only when women are truly empowered at every level that this terrible tide may turn.


Only in India: cheaper to buy bride than raise daughter

Kerala has been a pioneer in man power export in many areas and for long. But a new manifestation of this export should be causing all of disquiet. The state has largely been known for its export of man power as NRIs but of late it has begun exporting women as brides in girl starved North Indian states like Haryana. On the face of it, cross cultural marriages in an ethnically fragile country ought to be encouraged as a cementing factor – except for two things – The “ export” of brides and their relatively easy availability would mean that there is even lesser incentive for communities in many of these North Indian States to abort female fetuses. Demographic threats have often been held out as a potential deterrent that might work to retard the increasingly wide spread malaise of female feticide.

The other thing that is happening is that human trafficking, particularly trafficking in women and minor girls is shifting shapes and is often enough now coming disguised as marriages. Trafficked women are no longer clandestinely bought and sold as used to mostly happen, it is possible now to “marry’ such women and then “divorce’ such women who then go on to “ marry” other men.

With marriage – whatever be its colors enjoying social sanction, it becomes difficult to prosecute any one and with birth certificates and mirage registrations largely non existent in rural hinterlands, it is next to impossible prove that a particular girl was a minor or that a particular woman was not married but trafficked. In India in any case, the Prevention of Immoral Traffic Act despite its name, covers only offences occurring in brothels and non brothel based trafficking as occurs in these kind of sham marriages are not covered. So effectively India lacks current ant trafficking laws.

Of course the issue of trafficking and women being trafficked is not restricted to Kerala and is perhaps more rampant with more dire consequences in other impoverished states. “Trafficking can be disguisedas migration, commercial sex or marriage. But what begins as a voluntary decision often ends up as trafficking as victims find themselves in unfamiliar destinations, subjected to unexpected work,” A BBC report for instance quoting the Assam police informs that since 1996 3,184 women and 3,840 female children have gone missing in the state and many have ended up working as call-girls around Delhi or used as “sex slaves” by wealthy landlords in states like Punjab and Haryana. That piece of statistic means that we are talking of about two women a day.

The market rate for a bride currently it seems is between 4,000 and 30,000 rupees ($88 to $660) and the custom of buying brides has not just infected the states of Haryana and Punjab only, it is spreading. In a district where the urban sex ratio is the lowest in the country at 678/1,000 and where the largest tehsil has a sex ratio of 535/1,000, the system of bride buying has become quite rampant in the last five years. Shahjahanpur’s block Bhawaal Kheda has several villages where, due to the low sex ratio, men have been buying brides from states like West Bengal, Orissa, Jharkhand and Bihar.

Coming back to the case of the brides out sourced , even if a woman is not bought and sold in the slave market, the racial memory of polyandry as inDraupadi it seems still persists. As the Hindu reports “ In some villages in Punjab, however, all the men in a household have access to the bought bride. She has no choice. Even if she is married to one brother, she must be available to all the other brothers in the house. Thus, polyandry exists, particularly in poor households where only one man can “buy” a wife. Sex selection has ensured that there are too few local women available. And poverty has dictated that only those with money can “buy” a woman. And with sex ratios touching 535 girls per 1000 boys in parts of the country, it may be that soon in places there may be no women to celebrate or observe the annual International Women’s’ Day that just went by.


Marriage Disguises Human Trafficking in India

Saturday, May 29, 2010

(Editor's Note : - this BBC story was initially published in  5 April 2006; but not much has changed for trafficked women in India since......)

Anwari Khatoon came visiting a relative in the northern Indian state of Haryana eight months ago, but ended up getting married against her will to a local man with six children from a previous marriage.
A man from her village in eastern Jharkhand state had accompanied the 22-year-old woman on her journey to Haryana.
When she arrived in the village, Anwari found the man and her relative pressuring her to marry the man with six children, a middle-aged truck driver.
Her new husband paid 10,000 rupees ($220) to the man who brought her to the village.
"Can a young, single girl get married to a father of six willingly?" asks Anwari.
"It is all fate. What has happened has happened. What can I do? My parents didn't even get any money from this deal."
Anwari is among the several thousand young women from all over India who are literally sold-off to men in Haryana, a state notorious for its low ratio of girls to boys.

The going rate for buying a girl in the state is anything between 4,000 and 30,000 rupees ($88 to $660).

Sex slaves

A cultural preference for sons over daughters has skewed India's sex ratio in places like Haryana.
As a result of female foeticide, there are about 861 women for every 1,000 men in Haryana, according to the last census. The national average is 927 women to 1,000 men.
Since there aren't enough local women to marry, Haryana's men pay touts to bring women for them to marry and to work on their farms.

Social activists reckon most of these women end up being used as sex slaves and then resold to other men in what looks like a flourishing market in trafficking of women.
The head of Asawati village told us about a girl called Ajmeri who arrived last month from the state of West Bengal in eastern India. She told the village head that "some people had come to see me and offered 10,000 rupees ($220)".
We went to look for Ajmeri. But when we reached her home she wasn't there. Her neighbours told us that she "may have been taken away by somebody" to another village.

Vicious cycle

These young women who are sold off as brides against their will are known in Haryana as 'paros'.
According to one estimate, there are almost 45,000 paros here from the dirt-poor, eastern tribal state of Jharkhand alone.
Touts pay their poor parents anything between 500 to 1,000 rupees (about $11 to $22) to take the daughter.

A 'paro' from Bihar
There are 45,000 'paros' from Jharkhand alone

Social activists say Haryana exemplifies the vicious cycle of exploitation of women and represents a society which does not respect women.
Haryana minister Randeep Singh Surjewala says the government is aware of the problem.
"Whenever we get complaints we take action. We are also trying to educate people socially and address the sex ratio problem," he says.
Last month a doctor and his assistant in Haryana were sentenced to two years in jail for revealing the sex of a female foetus and then agreeing to abort it. It was the first time offenders had been sent to jail for this offence.

Shakti Vahini is one NGO trying to help the paros by rescuing them and sending them to a safe home run by the state government.

In one case a man stands accused of beheading his paros wife because she refused to sleep with his brothers.

"There is a lack of political will, so no government is taking any steps to curb this problem," says Sanjay Mishra, who runs a voluntary group in Jharkhand associated with rescuing these women.
Meanwhile, Haryana's infamous market in women continues to flourish. 

India's 'bride buying' country

Saturday, May 22, 2010

One of the most telling things about a society is how it treats its women, that half of its population which lives, works and struggles to contribute to the family, community and society at large, In a larger sence, what defines a society is how it treats its poorest, weakest and most vulnerable members.

Parts of Haryana today present a rather vicious picture, far removed from the moral parameters or principles on which any progressive society is built. for the brokers of human trafficking, Haryana, is the point of demand of consumers, the buyers of a women's dignity.
women are brought here from different parts of country, most of them from Magadh belt of Bihar-Jharkhand; Musrshidabad in west bengol; the border areas of Assam and secunderabad; and hydrabad in Andhra Pradesh- all poverty stricken muslim areas. These women are promised marriage of inducted as farm labourers but the real purpose is to center them into the sale-purchase chain to provide sexual satisfaction to their buyers. The price fixed for them depends on their age and physical appearance.
These women referred to as Paaro in the Mewat (Muslim area of Haryana) and as 'Molki" (purchased women) in rest of the state (Jaat dominated) These terms signify their poor social status and the fact of their "having been purcheased". The men who use them represent the underbelly of Haryana, the self-styled 'macho' men for whom violence and alcohol go hand in hand with this heinous act.
As can be expected, civilized
society does not recognize such women or give them any of the rights or privileges normally accorded to a wife. living silently in the shadows, invisible to society, the paros and the Molkis are constantly sexually ravaged by their buyers.
what is disconcerting, if not shocking, is the responce of those in authority: to start with, the police, who do not recognize it as a major problem. The intelligentsia and social leadders in haryana blame touts for bringing these women here. The reason given for their being brought from another states is abysmal sex-ratio in Haryana. where the number of women even for regular matrimonial alliances fall far short of the demand.
These leaders are quick to blame the "socially backward" saying that it is they who are responsible for bringing in these women for their vile needs. However this theory is full of holes as it has clearly been the economically powerful sections, those with newly acquired wealth, who have in fact played a key role in intiating and establishing this practice.
There are women like Khairun from Hiranpur village of Pakud (Jharkhand) who was purched for 7000 in PAthri kalan of Jind (Haryana). she is regularly subjected to rape by her so-called husband and his younger brothers; a fact to which Rajkala Malik sarpanch of Pathri village turns a Nelson's eye, saying, "This is not new here" He adds that three years ago, agirl named salma had been bought for Rs 5000, after her "husband" Rajesh died, she was exploited by all and sundry in his village, there seems to be a conspiracy of silence among all those who stand to gain by trapping and exploiting these women. According to the sarpanch, the entire village ensures that such women do not escape or meet any strangers.
Earlier, the state had a tradition of karewa where one women had a sexual relationship with multiple men. with the intellectuals and the social reformers baying for blood to eliminate his practice, a new form of it emerged: a single woman is kept after being bought by her exploiter. The modification has been cleverly done, putting an end to the agitation of the progressive elements, who in their turn, have eased the pressure on those directly involved, perhaps they decided that in order to preserve the status quo, this was the easier path, or at any rate the one that was politically correct.
Some social organizations, like EMPOWER PEOPLE are working in the areas of kurukshetra, Jind and Mewat, and are dedicated to helping these women, but for a widely prevalent practice which seems to have the blessings of the powers that be, Thisi is a mere drop in the ocean. while caste and religion do not matter in these transactions, it is pertinent that many of these women are Muslim. Says Rukayya of Sindhana (Jind Haryana), who was brought from west Bengal "People tell us that Muslims sell their daughters; that's why you are here" She was brought here after being duped into believing that she would be marrying a Muslim, Heermajra village of sonepat district of Haryana, is a major centre for "sale-purchase" of girls from Assam and West Bengal. Most of the girls bought and sold here are Muslim.
Amidst all this, there is the odd story which shines like a ray of light in a cave that has been dark for years. Hameedan of Bukharka, who was also brought here and sold to ironsmith, found her saviour in man who married her. But such stories are straws in the wind, too few and scattered to really make a difference to those hundreds whose dignity and chasrity are being organizations too, which work in this difficult area, sometimes have cause to celebrate. A few days ago, a non govermental organization was successful in freeing a thirtee-year old girl from the clutches of flesh-traders in sonepat,
Perhaps such straws in the wind can be gathered together and strengthened with the help of all those who speak for women's rights, social justice and the rule of law. tackiling such issues does not only mmean making policies and laws, it also means being sesitive and motivated enough to make a difference to the lives of hundreds of women caught in the web of trafficking in Haryana.  (Shafiqur Rahman khan)

The Nightmare : Bride trafficking in India

Saturday, April 24, 2010

A 16-year-old Muslim girl from West Bengal, who was allegedly sold to live as a “slave wife” with a Dalit man, has been rescued from Ponchhada village in Karauli district of Rajasthan. Women’s groups here say the girl was a victim of a big trafficking network in eastern part of the State where there is a high gender imbalance.
Memi Khatoon, belonging to Nijgaon village in Malda district of West Bengal, was brought to Ponchhada from Delhi about a year ago after allegedly being purchased for Rs.26,000. She was forced to live as a wife with 40-year-old Paramsukh Lal Bairwa and was tortured and confined to his house for doing household chores.
Women’s groups produced the visibly upset and malnourished girl at a press conference here on Saturday, claiming that she escaped while being taken for medical treatment to another village and was rescued by some Muslim families whom she approached. She will be lodged for the time being at the short-stay home, Shakti Stambh, run by the Rajasthan University Women’s Association.
Memi said she had left her village with some of her relatives to visit Delhi, where she met a woman who gave her biscuits laced with a tranquillising drug. She fell unconscious and later found herself at a house in Ponchhada village. When she tried to escape, the family members said they had “purchased” her and forced her to live with Paramsukh.
The Dalit family allegedly forced her to speak to her mother on telephone and tell her that she had married a Muslim boy on her own and was living happily with him. She was not allowed to venture out of home and was compelled to have sexual relations with the 40-year-old man.
Memi also said she knew of four to five girls living in similar circumstances in the village. “I noticed that the woman I had met in Delhi was in regular touch with the family which purchased me. She seemed to be running a racket for supplying young girls to the region,” she said.
Activists belonging to the National Federation of Indian Women and National Muslim Women’s Welfare Society demanded stringent punishment to those who had purchased the girl and identification of people involved in the girl trafficking racket. They have lodged a complaint at the women’s police station in Gandhi Nagar here.
Kavita Srivastava of People’s Union for Civil Liberties said the girl trafficking route in eastern Rajasthan had revived during the last couple of years following the decline in the sex ratio due to which the men were not able to find girls for marriage. As many as four such cases had been detected during the last two months in the region, she added.
Association for Protection of Civil Rights convenor Paikar Farooque said the case of Memi Khatoon clearly depicted the increasing crimes against women in the State. Women activists Nisha Siddhu and Nishat Hussain demanded immediate reconstitution of the State Women’s Commission, lying defunct for over a year, for dealing with such cases.
Activists also expressed concern over the Dalit families in Hindon tehsil, where Ponchhada is situated, reportedly threatening the local Muslims for having extended support to Memi. A caste panchayat of Bairwa community is reportedly being convened shortly in the village to discuss the matter.

Minor sold as ‘slave wife’ rescued

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The glossary of abusive words has increased with a new entrant, ‘paro’. The word ‘paro’ is well known today in regions like Haryana, Punjab, western Uttar Pardesh and Rajasthan.  As with so many derogatory words, paro comes from the degrading and disparaging attitude of men towards women: it means ‘woman who is purchased for a few bucks’, ‘paro’ are those girls who are bought and brought from eastern Uttar Pardesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Orissa and Bengal to compensate for the shortage of shortage of women of child bearing age.  She is not a prostitute in open terms, but her levirate marriage today means that it is not only after the death of her husband that his younger brother takes his place, she is also obliged to have sexual relations with his brothers while her husband is still alive. How can it be appropriate to call a woman living like this a ‘wife?’
‘Paro’ is an exact and true example of Catherine McKinnon’s definition of the relation of the two major sexes, “man fucks women: subject verb object”. This kind of only example in Indian classical texts, is Draupadi (A character in the epic of Mahabharata who had pandavas— the five brothers as her husbands. The five brothers had their separate wives too.) Visit any region of Haryana and you will find Catherine’s definition to be true. In spite of this widespread and increasing practice, there is no wide or authoritative research in this field available, but scattered information and data do draw a sketchy picture of the situation. From field and animal husbandry to so called ‘women’s work’ a woman is expected to do it all as ‘her duty’, and you can imagine if women who are brought as legal wife with a huge dowry has to do all these what happens to those who are bought and brought from far away 
This may not directly be a case of human trafficking but indirectly it is! And it’s very serious violation of women’s most basic human rights. Our radical organisation ‘Empower People’ is researching this situation now. Before completion of this research it will not be appropriate to say anything conclusively. But already some of the examples we have found underline the seriousness of the situation. One man who is held in very high regard in his society for being vocal against female foeticide and gender inequality, agreed to speak to me and when I got closer, I found that he has two sons and no daughter, wife and his widowed mother take care of agro & domestic chores and this man has took to social service.  

Paro or Molki : Perception and Causes (An unknown face)
Our research reveals that in Jaatland of Haryana is that paro or molki owning villages become the source of spreading the practice of paro horizontally as well as vertically.  In the village of  Kharakramji the paro were mainly from Maharashtra and in the village Shillakhedi the paro are mainly from West Bengal. We discovered that a paro who had been imported from another village then became the contact through whom other paros would be imported from her area.  The ‘husbands’ of those paro or Molki are were indulging in the heinous work of dalali (Broking system) . For example, Hari Om (name changed) from Kharakramji, who did not wanted to be interviewed, but admitted with a glory that he owns a paro. He also said that he is continuously in contact with the other dalals ( traffickers or brokers) of the city. He warned us of dire consequences if we write anything about the paro or polyandry. He told us with pride that he would be bringing more paro into the village for the other unmarried and unemployed men (people) who come to him to arrange for a paro for them. A member of Panchayat of Kharakramji village admitted this fact. He told me “they import molki to satisfy their sexual needs, all the brothers take advantage of her and for the neighbours they have a bride to show”
We found that the  ‘husbands’ of the paro or molki and their relatives become the agents and they are continuously in contact with the agents in Hissar, Sonipat and Jind, which epicenter of the trafficking. The agents dwell in the village itself. Sometimes they are truck drivers or the people who are continuously out-goers. A paro is sold more than once in many cases by the agents and their ‘husbands’ and the rate varies from Rs.7, 000/- to Rs.40, 000/.  The paro owners also lead their neighbours and relatives from other village to a place where they can find a paro. The person for whom the paro is being bought affords all the expenses throughout the way.
Our research in the field revealed a number of reasons why women are imported into Jaatland, including the practice of polyandry, the desire for cheap labour, the fact that small landholdings and division of property, scarcity of girls, the passing of marrying age and heavy dowry. But, the irony is that on one hand men are purchasing girls and on the other graph of dowry is touching sky. 

Historical evolution of Paro (molki)
Social acceptance of karewa and its prevalence can be seen in folklore and local proverbs . Also this is noticed by one British administrator, observing the practice in early 20th century onward, recorded that even where there was only one married brother, the other brothers had free access to his wife. (M. L. DARLING, the famed writer and civil administrator of  this region, writing in Prosperity and Debt, first edition, 1925 reprint, South Asia Books, Delhi, 1978) an oft-repeated story of those days jocularly related even now, to show what a marital association entailed in the past, concerns a new bride who had four or five jeth or dewar All of them had free sexual access to her. After fifteen or twenty days of her marriage, the bride requested her mother-in-law to identify her husband from among them. Upon this the mother-in-law came out in the gali (street) and started to howl loudly; when asked about it she replied: " It is difficult for me to live in this house any more. I have been married for forty years, yet even now I have never asked anyone to determine the identity of my husband. This fifteen-day-old bride is already asking about her's." (Prem Chowdhry “An Alternetive to the sati modal : Perceptions of a Social Reality in Folklore” )
The story gives a peep into the popular perception of sexual exploitation as it existed in those days and the extent to which it was accepted as common knowledge. Women's awareness of this exploitation is highlighted even more directly and in a very perceptive manner in a lokgeet (folk song), not commonly heard these days, sung by a young bride. While recounting her enormous work load she is  made to tackle in her in-law's house every day, the bride revealingly discloses :
Beaten and forced to live with my brother-in-law in sin, unending house work has emaciated me, oh God!
In another ragini (song), used for enacting a swang (local folk theatre), the theme revolves around the unwelcome advances of the jeth who forces himself on his sister-in-law and refuses to take no for an answer. The proverb originates from the earlier practice, given above, which shows the brother-in-law to have sexual access to the sister-in-law. Even the father-in-law, given a chance, was not above the sexual exploitation of his daughter-in-law. That this was customarily practiced was recorded by British officials in the late 19th century. Certain villages which need not be named, have the evil reputation of deliberately getting girls older than their boy husbands in order that the father of the latter may have illicit enjoyment of them (E. Joseph, Customary Law of the Rohtak District, Lahore, 1911).
In fact, colonial Punjab and Haryana witnessed instances of the father-in-law claiming karewa marriage with the widowed daughter-in-law in
the mid-1930s
(RATTIGAN, William Henry. 1966 A digest of civil law for the Punjab, 82). From the sexual point of view these attempts may very well have been to legitimize an already existing relationship which had possibly left the widowed Bahu (daughter-in-law) pregnant. An old folktale highlights these aspects:
A widowed daughter-in-law conceived from her sasura (father-in-law). She was deeply embarrassed about what the people were going to say. The father-in-law reacted to this by asking her to stitch him a quilt full of patches. This quilt he wrapped around himself and sat down in the front courtyard of the house. All the men and women who saw him laughed at the old man and commented on his heavily patched-up quilt. After a few days they stopped, having got used to him and his quilt. It was then that the old man said: " Look here, you woman, now it's all over. People take just a few days to get used to a thing."
The wide-scale social acceptance in the past of this level of sexual exploitation of women for the satisfaction of men has now been transformed into the current practice of buying women ‘paro’ or ‘Molki’ – women who are purchased from outside state - from West Bengal, Maharastra, Madhya Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Pahad, Uttrakhand, Himachal Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh.
Cheap Labour
Where paro women are imported they work as cheap labour. They are sent to do the daily farm work while the local brides seldom go to the field. One head of a family, Ram Singh (name changed), told us, “they (the paro) do all types and all of the work, they run very fast here and there, like in the fields, home, cattle, management of water, night duty.”
He also justified paro as a result of the law on land and property ownership “the size of the land remains the same but the claimants increased generation by generation, employment is scanty, education gives nothing, then tell who will come with marriage proposals and why?”
There is no doubt that the scarcity of girls is one of the reasons behind the import of the girls from other states. However, there are mixed opinions expressed when people were interviewed.  Some of them agreed that there is an obvious relationship between female foeticide and the practice of paro. As an elderly women lamented “they kill their girls and now they bring other’s here, it’s like as if our ‘Barseen’ ( a kind of green leafy weeds for cattle) supply has run out and now we are going to make sure our neighbours does too”.  On the other hand, some of the people clearly denied the relationship between female foeticide and importing of Molki or paros.  A social activist Deepak Chahal, told us “until now the of killing the girls has not had any effect on encouraging the practice of paro, but for the upcoming generation or in future, its worst effects will be seen”.
When we looked at the role that age may play in the paro system,  we found  that the owners or the ‘husbands’ are in the age group of 25 - 40 years. In the words of jeth of a paro, Suresh Kumar Kataria, “ we did not have land and employment,  so the people were not coming with proposals of marriages for our son,  so at last we had to bring a molki”.

Paro or Molki : An abusive word

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Besides Haryana, the cases of importing girls are reported from Punjab, Rajasthan and western Uttar Pradesh. Nevertheless the maximum numbers of cases are from Haryana. The word “Paro” is quite popular among the media which has its origin in Mewat. The region of Mewat forms the parts of Haryana and Rajasthan. It is named after a tribe (caste—without st status) Meo—a Muslim ‘Caste’ with its special traditions and customs—is presently known for the import of girls. Recently, such cases of ‘import’ have been reported in the media from this region.

The other region of Haryana is called “Jat Land”, its traditions and customs are different from the Mewat region. But this diversity of cultures and traditions does not make any difference in regard to the ‘import’ of girls. Contrary to the popular belief, the girls are imported here from outside also, but the difference lies in the term used—instead of “Paro” they are called “Molki”. And the media is not aware of these Molki women. It doesn’t matter what is the reason behind all this, but it is quite clear in the study conducted and the sample survey done before (A Study done by Empower People, supported by SANLAP), that 7% of women population were Molki at an average in each village. How it can be said that where the import of girls is on such a large scale, everything is going on smoothly and no confrontation on the social side exists.
Photo : - Shafiqur Rahman Khan

Import of girls is not a new concept, it is quite old and it is impossible and tough to judge the whole scenario without looking into the socio-cultural track of the region.
Recently it is seen that many reasons are given for bringing these girls. One reason is Female foeticide. It sounds like a joke. Those who are not well off and do not have the capacity to afford marriage are said be potential buyer of the girls. People from police, army and truck drivers from Haryana during their visits and travel to other states started keeping second women there. These ‘marriages’ were done to start a good business. Whereas the girls families were kept in dark that the girls are married respectfully and are leading a happy married life. These families are transformed into a ‘contact’ for further such ‘marriages’ and sale and purchase of women.
Maximum “Molki” girls were second, third and fourth ‘wife’ in number and the age difference was almost double.
The import of girls has been quite an old phenomenon in Haryana. Imports of girls were done for working in the agricultural field and they also looked after the household work.
The status of ‘Paro’/‘Molki’ women is quite bad. Most of the cases, which comes to light are from Mewat. And only two cases were reported from the Jat Land where the girls have been murdered and the cases were registered with the police. Media has still not reported anything on this issue. Police officers are totally ignorant of the issue and it is natural that the voices are suppressed in this way.
These Molki women have their voice of dissent hidden and sometime they do translate it into action by fleeing from their captives. But most of the girls do not have such courage and fortunate enough to escape from their fate. They have to bear all this only for the sake of earning there livelihood. And of course they are very well aware of the fact that they are being used as a ‘sex toy’, they will be used and thrown. Their fate is in the hands of their so called ‘husbands’, who more often sell and resell them.
That is why maximum number of Molki women adapts to the situation since they do not have any support system which could help them in getting any kind of protection.
The other side of the story is that even if they revolted and fled away, they either adopt the profession of call girls so that they don’t need to return to their own homes from where they, originally belong. Or they take to a kind of ‘marriage business’ through middlemen in which they ‘marry’ again and again and runaway. 

It has been constantly observed that girls from the poverty stricken areas and from the tribal belts of West Bengal, Bihar, Jharkhand and Orissa are the main source. According to a published article, “India’s Bride Buying Country” on BBC News, there are 45,000 Paros in Haryana from the eastern tribal state of Jharkhand alone.
Hardly any organization is working on the issue and due to the lack of information, quantitative and qualitative on this grave situation it will be rationale to do the study on macro level.
In the districts of Haryana and some parts of the adjoining states, a peculiar term burdafarosh can be heard. According to the President of Kurushektra Bar Association Sh. Mahinder Singh Tanwar, ‘these people used to do this business in the past (import-export of girls and laborers), which means, an agent whose business is to supply the girls as per demand. They roam in search of girls to different villages and book them as per the requirements’.
In his controversial book ‘Haryana ki Duvidha’, Mr. D. R. Chowdhary writes in the context of molki women, “These unfortunate living beings are totally unaware of the language, customs and ethos here! And they live a very inhuman life. They are only served as the fodder to satisfy the sexual desire of the males.”
The important thing is that the GOs and NGOs are completely unaware of the grave situation prevailing in the area. And even if who knows something about the issue, does not consider this a case of human trafficking. In an interview with Empower People, Police Inspector of Ladwa, Kurukshetra termed these Molki women as ‘gifted sex toy’ but refused to consider this a case of trafficking.
On the other hand most of the NGOs see the import of girls with the declining sex-ratio in Haryana. However it appears appealing, but the question is why the people are sending their daughters far away in a scenario where the question of declining sex-ratio is prevalent in the whole country? The other thing is that, according to the Census of 1981 a rise of 3% in the population of girls in Haryana was registered which was the highest of the twentieth century. For this increase the contemporary conditions esp. Indira Gandhi’s dominance is credited with. It is obvious that the people who brought (read bought) such girls are born in the cohort of 1981 and near to it, whereas this cohort also includes the highest increased percentage of girls of the century.
Whereas, in the region of Haryana and its environs practice of dowry is well known then why the boys are buying girls? And if the girls are less in number in comparison to boys in Haryana and the girls have more options in choosing their spouse then why the statistics of dowry shooting up?
Where the caste panchayats are pronouncing death sentences and caste-exiles in the name of gotra and castes to the lovers and inter caste marrying couples then how can they accept bringing girls from outside caste/region/religion and social background?

Haryana's marriage business