India never ceases to amaze. The way we respect, worship, adore, honour our women folk is exemplary in the world. Everybody in the world now knows how despite India having the developed nation tag is still underdeveloped in its outlook towards women. Every now and then arises a story which pushes women and the country back into the dark ages.
Here is one such story from a village in Madhya Pradesh. Here women are given out on rent to the richest man or the upper class male who cannot find a partner. The woman is supplied as wife for a month or for yearly rental basis. The words immediately signify how women have been actively reduced to an inanimate object of barter or commerce.
Called Dhadeecha Pratha in the Shivpuri district of MP, the practice involves signing over a woman for lease on a stamp paper. With the help of these stamp deeds worth Rs 10, Rs 100, women are exchanged to the next man in need. There is a market here where girls are made to stand in the name of the custom. Then the men decide the price of the girl of their choice.
So the woman has a new husband after her contract ends. The higher the rental amount, the longer the period she gets to stay with one man.
This practice is not limited to MP but has been reported in Gujarat as well. Due to scarcity of women largely due to female infanticide, there has been a case where a Gujarati farm labourer Atta Prajapati leased his wife Laxmi to a wealthy zamindar for a month. The exchange earned him 10 times his monthly salary - Rs 8000. The deal needs her to live with the man and share his bed and take care of the family as well. This has become a lucrative business opportunity for many villagers in the Gujarat-MP belt. In some cases the women are sold for prices as low as Rs 500, while in some other their families are paid up to Rs 50,000 for marrying their daughters to men from certain communities.
Apart from the dwindling female population here. touts or middlemen who encourage such dealings also prey on the woman's family's poverty. The tribal families are known to be involved in such practices.
No action has been taken because none comes forward to complain, say the police, all the while acknowledging the existence of such a practice.