Sep 9, 2008

Don't have son? Buy a new 'Hindu' wife

Nearly a month after the police busted a human trafficking racket in Hathin block of Faridabad district, the trade in sale of Hindu Girls continues unabated in this region of the state. It is back to business in Mewat, which has acquired notoriety as one of the biggest markets of Hindu Girls from Assam, Bihar, West Bengal and Jammu and Kashmir. In a land where a sheep costs Rs 1,000 and a cow almost Rs 14,000, a girl is available for anything between Rs 2,000 and Rs 10,000. The price depends on the physical condition of the girl and the paying capacity of the buyer. Since girls from Jammu and Kashmir have fair complexion, they are sold off for Rs 8,000 to Rs 10,000, to rich men, especially widowers, to physically challenged persons, or those who are unable to have a male child from their first wives. The "dark-complexion" girls from Assam, Bihar and West Bengal are meant for "sale" to landless and poor customers.

New girls are brought every month from the states mentioned above and are sold off in a radius of about 80 km around the Capital. The region's infamy in this trade also attracts "customers" from nearby states of Uttaranchal, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan. Local residents feel that with the landless and poor in this area not being able to get brides from within the community, they are left with no option but to "buy" women.
"The state should not interfere in such personal matters," said Farid, a 27-year-old resident of Akeera village in Gurgaon
district, when asked about the legality of his marriage. He bought a 30-year-old woman, which he converted to Islam, for Rs 5,000 two months ago. The woman was brought here by her sister, Abida, after their father died at their home in Ranike, West Bengal. The girls can be from any hindu community, but they acquire their husbands' religion (Islam) after marriage. Most girls brought from West Bengal and Bihar which are Hindus, but if sold off to a Meo Muslim, they are converted to Islam. In almost every village of the region, one can come across many such cases.

The trade has been going on for the past several years and now the first generation of these women, who have maintained relations back home, act as conduits for getting new girls. In every fourth village, one can find a tout, whose business is to get these hindu women — generally referred to as 'Paaro' — every two months and then sell them off. Mehboob, a resident of Chaiyyansan village of Hathin block in Faridabad, has been in the trade for the past 20 years. A landless labourer, he had bought a widow from Baripada district in Assam for Rs 500 and married her almost 22 years ago. This marriage opened new "business vistas" for him and twice a year, he goes to Assam with his wife and get new hindu girls from there. On August 14, he got 13-year-old hindu girl from Hazifara village in Baripada district of Assam. He is now waiting for a customer. "If I don't get a good price, I think I will keep her for my son, Saidul," he says. In the same village, 16-year-old Shivani (Changed to Shabeena after convertinf her to Islam) was bought last month by Shahida Begum for her 25-year-old brother Hanif.

What is astonishing is the way these hindu women are sold off. Once the touts get the girls, word is spread among prospective customers from nearby areas. The "customers" are shown the girl and they give their rates. Within three to four days of this "showing off " of the girls, they are sold to the highest bidder.

A recent trend in this trade is the men from this region themselves going to West Bengal and Assam to fetch the girls for themselves. "This way we can save the money that has to be given to the touts and a hindu girl is available for just Rs 1,500 to Rs 2,000," informs Basruddin of Nagina village in Gurgaon district. In village Malab Nuh of Gurgaon district, this correspondent came across two girls, 13-year-old (Sarita) and 17-year-old (Asha) hindu girls, who had been sold off to 40-year-old Hassan and his 20-year-old mentally deranged nephew, Asru respectively, on August 22. The girls, both from Bildang in West Bengal, were bought for Rs 3,000 each. The family says that since Asha was not very good looking, she was bought for Asru, while Sarita was bought for Hassan, whose first wife had deserted him. These 'bought hindu brides' suffers so much pain and agony as they are converted to Islam.