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2018 (Narrative date)

It is estimated that almost 8 million people are living in conditions of modern slavery in India (GSI 2018). The skewed sex ratio in some regions of India has fuelled the trafficking and selling of women and young girls as brides within India. Women are reportedly sold off into marriage by their families, sometimes at a young age, and end up enduring severe abuse, rape and exploitation by their husbands. It is also reported that women and girls from impoverished backgrounds have been lured by promises of marriage by younger men from urban areas, then forced into sex work once married. 

Shaheen was forced into marriage at 13 years old. Her husband works as a mechanic and Shaheen undertakes all the domestic work. She gave birth to a girl via caesarian and is now pregnant with her second child.

My father passed away when we were very young. My mother does welding work and got my elder sister married. I dropped out of school during Class V to help my mother. She got me married within a year when I was 13 years old, against my wishes. I wanted to be with my mother and help her. She convinced me that if I got married, she would be relieved of all her responsibilities and also that the match was a good one. My husband works as a mechanic and gives me whatever I ask for, but I hesitate to ask. In my mother-in-law’s house, I do normal domestic work and help her. In the beginning, she was irritated with me as I was inefficient and did not know how to cook. I have got used to cooking and taking care of the home while my in-laws go out to work. They treat me very well and are kind because I lost my father when I was little. After two years of marriage, I gave birth to a girl. She is now 15 months old. It was a caesarian. I am pregnant now and have gone to my mothers’ house for delivery. Nobody was happy that I had a baby girl. But my husband wanted a daughter. He visited me during the first pregnancy and visited me this time too. I have no friends near my husband’s place but meet friends when I stay with my mother.