Ravleen Kaur, Express India , 25 Jan 2007
New Delhi, January 24: The dwindling sex ratio in North India is forcing men to “import” wives from other parts of the country, says a study by a professor at the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi.
“The sex ratio in Northern India, especially in Punjab and Haryana, is bad as men there now are having to import wives from eastern regions like Orissa, Tripura and Assam,’’ said Dr Ravinder Kaur, associate professor at IIT’s department of Humanities and Social Sciences, at the Gender Policy Forum organised jointly by the Institute of Social Studies Trust and the India Habitat Centre.
“The situation has become so bad that a common practice of exchanging women has begun. Commonly called atta-satta, daughters are married into another family only if they get a daughter-in-law in exchange. Sex-ratio induced marriages are also becoming common in Uttar Pradesh now,’’ said Dr Kaur.
The study was conducted since 2003 in Sonepat, Jind and Rohtak districts of Haryana, Etah in UP, and Punjab. Dr Kaur said she found at least 4-5 cases per village where the bride has been brought from long distance.
“The families in these villages are so caste-conscious that the men will not marry a lower class or poor woman in their village but get a poor woman from afar. There were instances when I found that land was demanded of men in marriage. But the communities there are proud of their land, and would go far for the bride rather than giving away land. The exporting states are mainly West Bengal, Assam, Tripura and Bihar,’’ she said.
“People are realising that it is increasingly difficult to find girls for marriage and are pulling back. However, it still exists across all classes, rich or poor. Rich farmers now have more access to technology and in Punjab, it has been found that people get an ultrasound done even at the first pregnancy,’’ she said.
The study by Dr Kaur states the sex ratio, especially in Punjab and Haryana, has remained constantly below 880 women per thousand men till 2001 and has not changed significantly thereafter.