Cruel Divide

Sample this: A 13 year old girl sold for Rs.35, 000 by her father to a 32 year old man for marriage in Haryana. A gang arranging fake marriages of aged men due to shortage of brides (skewed sex ratio) got busted. Haryana is economically one of the most important states in India, but when it comes to the sex ratio, the situation is pretty grim.

The latest numbers show only 861 females per 1000 males. Ask a third grader to suggest ways to tackle this problem and he would give better solutions like improved health and educational prospects for women. Quite unlike a solution like this: all the 44 government owned tourist resorts should be provided at concessional rates for celebrating birthdays of for young girls! The scheme that the Haryana government has introduced to cover the discrepancies in the sex ratio is more apt for boosting tourism in the state.

Just imagine if someone is expecting a child, and due to the mushrooming of underground sex-check clinics (and despite strict regulations on sex check mechanisms) the parent gets to know that the child that would be born is a girl. Do you think they will be against foeticide only because they can celebrate the birthdays of their daughter at one of these 44 state owned resorts at concessional rates? Certainly not! Only those people who have the wherewithal to provide the basic necessities to their daughters will enjoy the benefits of this scheme. As for majority of the population, this measure will be out of reach, because even concessional rates require a basic payment.

A problem like a skewed sex ratio is like a Pandora’s Box. While trafficking of girls from and within the state is a norm, concepts like polygamy are catching up too. Young girls who are already considered a burden due to the narrow mindedness of the parents are sold off to middle-aged men who cannot find a suitable bride due to the lack of options available. But not everyone can afford to buy a wife priced at anywhere between Rs.30000-50000 . Thus, two or more brothers marry the same bride to take the family name forward. This might not sound new to you because Punjab is a ‘been there done that state’ when it comes to polygamy. But now neighbor Haryana is witnessing the same. In the midst of this all there is someone who is happily walking to the bank! Police has busted many gangs recently who fix marriages for a certain sum and then find that the bride runs away with all the money & ornaments from her temporary husband


More concerning than the problem itself is the attitude of the Government towards it. Most of its previous schemes have only achieved a minute change; nothing concrete has come of it. Some would even say that the government has an escapist attitude towards a problem that has existed for as long as we can remember. But even the government can’t do much since the problem is rooted in everybody’s psyche. We uproot that, we can uproot and get rid of the whole problem.

Monica Verma

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