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.
Gunde Mounika’s parents fixed her marriage against her will. Wanting to continue her studies Mounika called on the help of her friends and went on a hunger strike to prevent the marriage.
Both my parents are disabled. My father became lame in an accident and my mother’s spine has been affected. She can only walk with her back bent double and is almost bedridden. I also lost use of my hand because of an electric shock and my legs have also been affected. My marriage was arranged with a boy from Nalgonda when I was studying Class IX. His brother-in-law had taken a loan from my parents and became very friendly with me. He proposed a marriage with his relative. The boy was a graduate and they wanted a dowry of Rs.20 lakh. They were given Rs.50,000 at the time of engagement. My father also registered a plot in my name. The neighbours were not very happy as they felt I was too young and I also wanted to continue studying. But my parents insisted on the marriage. I went on a hunger strike to protest against this decision. I also asked my friends to convince my parents. They stopped the marriage arrangements. I am now pursuing a two year diploma course.
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’