The Nightmare : Bride trafficking in India
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 . 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)