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.
Saroja was married at the age of 16, is forced to undertake all the housework and is under great pressure to conceive.
My parents are uneducated, own land and are also daily wage workers. I have one older brother and four sisters, all uneducated. My marriage was fixed when I was 16 years old. I was not aware of the implications of marriage. After marriage, I lived with the in-laws and my husband’s younger brother. I was not used to doing any work around the house. My mother taught me cooking just before my marriage. Now I work along with my mother-in-law. For four years, there were no children and outside taunting caused more problems than my inlaws. We went to many temples along with my husband. I am now six months pregnant and very nervous about the pregnancy. My mother’s house is 14 km away and we visit her together for festivals. My husband does as his mother says. My workload has come down after my husband’s brother got married.
Narrative provided by M Venkatarangaiya Foundation in their report ‘…and they never lived happily ever after. The battle for justice goes on: Voices of married girls in Telangana’