India’s inter-state brides
Summary of story from BBC News, May 20, 2011
A shortage of women in Haryana, a state in northern India, has led some Indian men to seek wives from other Indian states, but the “imported” brides often struggle to adapt.
On the face of it, Sreeja, originally from Kerala, 2000 kms away, leads a contented life with her husband, two children and a pet dog in a cosy two-room brick and cement village home in this northern state.
But prod her a little, and she begins speaking openly about life in a society steeped in patriarchy.
“Men here don’t allow their women to go out and work. They just dominate.”
“So all you do is farm work and chores at home. There is this dreariness of work in the boiling heat. There is no relief.
“That’s not all. Safety is a concern. Women are not safe here – they are harassed and sometimes attacked. Where I come from, women can walk around safely.
“Hindu married women here wear veils. Why? Back home only Muslims women wear veils. Here, they abort and kill their girls. Then they complain about a lack of girls and bring them from other states to marry.”
Inter-state marriages are rare in rural India. Yawning differences in language, food, cultural habits, weather, attitudes to women and even names easily conspire to make such alliances unworkable.
But Sreeja’s husband, Birbal Singh, was unable to find a bride in Haryana, which has the most unbalanced sex ratio in the country, with 877 women for every 1,000 men. Among under sevens, that ratio drops to just 830 girls for every 1,000 boys.
Experts say Haryana’s situation is the result of illegal sex-selective abortions, female infanticide, parental neglect and discrimination against girl children.
In contrast, Kerala has a laudable 1,084 women for every 1,000 men, according to the 2011 census, considerably higher than the national average of 940 women for every 1,000 men.
Men in Haryana, unable to find a bride at home, are willing to pay up to 100,000 rupees ($2,222) to marry an “imported” girl from states like West Bengal, Jharkhand, Bihar or Madhya Pradesh.
With fewer women the “marriage market” has taken an interesting turn.
Usually, a bride’s family pays a large dowry to the groom’s family. But these days prospective grooms in areas short on women often need to have substantial amounts of land and a secure government job if they are to win a wife.
In Haryana, the “imported” brides have adapted to life in this alien land, giving up their jobs and learning the local Hindi dialect.
But of her marriage, Sreeja says: “We live in two worlds in our minds, but we manage. But when I go home to my parents, I don’t feel like coming back.”
WVoN comment: Once again, it is women who are paying the price for the folly of men. Enough economists are men, so why, when they were so busy orchestrating the foeticide and infanticide of girls through wholesale denigration of an entire sex, did they not stop to think that restrictions in supply always lead to increased demand?