//No girls to marry, Haryana men go bride-shopping

No girls to marry, Haryana men go bride-shopping

Chochra (Haryana): The low sex ratio and a consequent dearth of marriageable girls in Haryana is leading to a bizarre practice. When girls are not available, there is no option but to buy them from distant areas.

A case in point is Poonma Devi, who lives in Chochra village in Haryana. She is not a native, but belongs to Paonta Sahib area bordering Himachal Pradesh and Uttranchal. She was brought to Haryana for marriage as her husband’s family could not find a suitable match in and around their area. It is a common practice in the state to bring girls after paying huge sums of money. "Girls are brought from Uttranchal and Himachal for marriage. Fifteen to 16 of them are from Uttranchal, Dharamshala etc. They are brought by middlemen and agents and some are also bought through acquaintance," a villager, Anil Kumar, said.

Poonma Devi may look different with her features that set her apart. But like many other women she has settled into the village life in Haryana. Upon asking how she manged to reach the village, she gives a vague reply. "People came from here searching for someone and asked me to marry here. I myself said yes. Then my brothers came and found out here and said okay. I then said yes and got married," she said. The entire village is a witness to similar women exchanges and there are at least 15 to 20 brides in Chochra bought from places outside Haryana. However, this figure is not confirmed since any attempt to find out whether these women have been coerced into marriage is avoided. The village Sarpanch (head) says there is no option but to get women from outside. "There is a shortage all over Haryana, India, people do wrong things and abort female fetuses. It is a very wrong thing. Bad situation in villages. Men say they want to get engaged. How can I do it? Where are the girls? All over India it’s the same, bad state," Sudama Ram says.

Surprisingly, there are several posters in the village that profess against women trafficking labeling its as immoral. Despite this, brides are being bought and exchanged and with it, it has brought another curse of female foeticide in many villages like Chochra.