After, Punjab and Haryana now Uttar Pradesh has also jumped into the race of purchasing brides due to its skewed sex ratio. Sex Ratio in Uttar Pradesh is 912 4 In 2001, the sex ratio of female was 898 per 1000 males in Uttar Pradesh. One of the highly populated state with total population of approximately 19.98 crores the state is now find it difficult to marry of its sons and hence the state has seen a rise in bride trade whereby young and minor girls from remote areas of West Bengal, Assam and Bihar are being trafficked for the purpose of forced marriages.
Shakti Vahini in past ten days has rescued three girls from forced marriage out of which two were rescued from Uttar Pradesh. The third victim was rescued from Himachal Pradesh from clutches of a man who again was a native of Uttar Pradesh. Shakti Vahini has rescued approx 10 victims from forced marriages in past 10 months. Most of these victims are trafficked from West Bengal and Assam to Haryana and Uttar Pradesh. The agents lure these girls with false promises of job, education, marriage and love but are later sold off to these states. Victims who are sold as bride in these states, work as domestic slaves during day times and becomes sex slaves at night.
In states like Uttar Pradesh, purchasing a bride is not considered a social stigma, rather it is as normal as purchasing a cattle. It is a socially accepted practise, and hence cases remain unreported. Behind the curtains of marriages the young girls are being thrashed, gang raped, beaten, pressurised, again raped, confined, exploited, sexually assaulted and forced to face all forms of Slavery and Exploitation.
In this trade of brides, lucky are those who timely get rescued and sent back to their homes, while in majority of cases, the cries and screams go unnoticed. The administration at Destination, transit as well as source areas gives deaf ears to these victims. Once a girl goes missing from her home, the law enforcement agencies fails to report and investigate the matter. The agencies at transit points hardly pay attention towards the movement of people into or from their jurisdictions. Irony is that at destination point, the police fail to take action against the offenders even after the rescue of the girls.
A girl who is supposed to be in school at a tender age of 14 years or may be 15 years is forced into “So-Called Marriage” mostly with a man double or even triple of their age. The fact that slavery in the form forced marriage is not hidden from any law making or law enforcing agencies or from government administration. Though with continuous efforts of some pro-active government and non government agencies, the issue is being talked about, but still the efforts are very low as compared to the rate of trafficking of girls for the purpose of forced marriages into Haryana, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh. In 2004 Shakti Vahini had highlighted the issue of Forced Marriages in Haryana and other states. Since then the problem has worsened.
Recently on the occasion of the Girl Child Day Ms Maneka Sanjay Gandhi the Union Minister for Women and Child made a appeal to combat foeticide. She stated “Today, we are proud that we are one of the fastest growing economies in the world. But the paradox remains that the girl child is denied the right to be born. It is a matter of great concern that gender biased sex selective elimination is continuing in many parts of our country. This is a violation of human rights and of the right to life guaranteed under our Constitution. The social biases against the girl child must be fought with all the resources at our command. The Prime Minister has brought these issues to the forefront through the “BetiBachao, BetiPadhao initiative.”
There is a need to speed up the action and involve all the stakeholders from Panchayats, Blocks, people, NGOS, Government agencies, Police, anti Human Trafficking units, Ministries, Judiciary and Legislature, to curb trafficking of innocent girls into forced marriages.
Shakti Vahini is committed to fight this social menace and violation of fundamental rights.