Haryana's marriage business
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?