Bridal Abduction: A Social Menace by Karishma

In the event that we look into the web for a meaning of a community, we would locate the accompanying information: “A people group is a social unit (a gathering of living things) with a shared characteristic, for example, standards, religion, values, customs, or personality. Networks may share a feeling of spot arranged in a given geological zone (for example a nation, town, town, or neighborhood) or in virtual space through correspondence stages. Sturdy relations that reach out past prompt genealogical ties additionally characterize a feeling of a network, essential to their personality, practice, and parts in social establishments, for example, family, home, work, government, society, or mankind on the loose.” We already know that a community can be of different types, such as a community based on religion, a community based on a common language, a community based on same sex, etc. But here, I would be talking only about communities based on a common language or ethnicity. As of now, we have 28 states and 8 union territories and almost all of the states have been divided on the basis of the language that the majority of the population in the respective geographical regions speaks. Over all, we have 22 major languages and 720 dialects spoken in India and all of these ‘lingual communities’, have always believed in preserving their ethnic groups by conducting marriages amongst their own respective communities, the study of which is known as Endogamy. In fact, there are some communities, whose opinions are so rigid when it comes to inter-caste or inter-community marriages that marriage between two persons of different castes/communities is deemed as a punishable offence. In 2011, the rate of inter-caste marriages in India was as low as 5.8%. More than two centuries after the Industrial Revolution, 19 out of 20 marriages in India were still conducted as per the dictates of the ancient caste system – a taboo so strong that breaking it often results in brutal violence.

You must be wondering by now that why I started off with a lecture on communities and ended up talking about marriages. Well, the answer to the question is this:

Few months back, an acquaintance of mine, got married to a man who belonged to a community different from hers and it wasn’t a love marriage but was arranged. The community that the groom belongs to, has the reputation of arranging matrimonial alliances among people of the same community only. They do not believe in intermingling with people from different communities, in order to preserve their customs, traditions, and ethnicity. So, when I got to know about this marriage, I was a little surprised, still I did not dwell on that and brushed it off, thinking, may be the times are changing, so are the people.

Cut to few months back, I read about a criminal case on the internet. Although the case was entirely based on a different crime, I zeroed it on the predicament of the lady in the case, who was kidnapped from a small town of Assam, tied up in a brothel there, and then sold off to two men from a small village in Rajasthan. Both the men, who were brothers, married the lady and abused and tortured her for 12 years, before she was able to free herself from their shackles with the help of her son. This case was actually an eye opener for me. Upon doing a lot of research, I found out that the number of women reported to have been taken against their will for marriage in India is increasing – rising almost 71% between 2010 and 2014 and the highest number of abductions are being done from the states of U.P., Bihar and Assam. The women are then sold off to buyers who in most cases, belong to the states of Haryana, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, Gujarat, and Punjab. Now, the next question that arises is, why is this even happening? Is the Indian judicial system that fragile that it cannot implement strict punishment for the culprits? To answer these questions, we will have to talk about a particular set of social evil that has ensnared our society since time immemorial, i.e., female foeticide or female infanticide. Estimates for female foeticide vary from one learned person to another. In our country, the Pre-conception and Prenatal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act, 1994 (amended in 2003) prohibits sex-selection or disclosure of the sex of the foetus. It also prohibits sale of “any ultrasound machine or any other equipment capable of detecting sex of foetus” to persons, laboratories or clinics not registered under the Act. Female foeticide is being practiced for a couple of decades, but the cases aggravated with the introduction of Ultrasound tech in Indian Medical scenario, in 1975. However, weak law enforcement and easy access to ultrasonography fail to curb this practice. One study estimates that, more than 10 million female foetuses may have been illegally aborted in India since the 1990s and nearly, 500,000 girls lose their lives annually, due to this heinous crime. MacPherson estimates that 100,000 abortions every year continue to be performed in India solely because the foetus is a female. This practice is prevalent throughout India, and it is a common practice amongst the urban population, rather than the rural population. This practice has therefore, directly affected the sex ratio in India. As per Population Census of 2011 it was revealed that the population ratio of India in 2011 was 943 females per 1000 of males, although the Sex Ratio in Haryana, Punjab, Jammu and Kashmir, Delhi, Chandigarh and Sikkim is far below national average of 940 as per census 2011. Due to this downfall in the number of females in these parts, the public have resorted to abduction of brides from the other parts of the country. The depth of this problem is not unknown to us and yet when I realized the severity of this problem, I was appalled. According to the 2016 National Crime Records Bureau, 33,855 people were kidnapped or abducted for the purpose of marriage. Nearly, half of them were below the age of 18. Activists believe the scale of bride trafficking is still not properly understood and investigated upon. A door-to-door survey by Empower People found nearly 1,352 trafficked wives living with their buyers in 85 villages in north India in 2014. A 2013 UN Office on Drug and Crime report highlighted that women trafficked for forced marriage are “exploited, denied basic rights, duplicated as maids and eventually abandoned”. Many of these women are resold on the whim of their ‘customer’.

 Therefore, through this article I had the noble intention to put across to the readers, the situation India is facing regarding Bride Abductions. I would request the citizens of India, primarily, to educate their girl child and make them capable and independent, so that they are never  dependent upon their male counterparts. As a substantial portion of the  Indian population thinks women to as a burden that they have to bear. We are all God’s creations and it is not upon us to decide who amongst us are weak or strong. Both sexes are interdependent and mutually need each other in this world. An educated and determined individual is capable of moving mountains. Also, as a citizen of this great nation, I would request my fellow citizens reading this article be a little more compassionate, especially post pandemic and to spread awareness about this social menace and help in the upliftment of the girl child.

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