Tuesday, August 29, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Where brides are hard to find
Low male-female ratio in Haryana
From Raman Mohan

HISAR, Aug 28 — Marriage market norms in Haryana are being rewritten in favour of girls as a result of the dwindling male-female ratio, government claims to a marginal increase in the ratio notwithstanding.

Although the government claims that the male-female ratio has risen from 865 females for every 1000 males in 1991 to 871 at present, the marriage market scene presents an altogether different picture with even the most eligible bachelors having to toil for finding suitable matches.

Social activists and village elders say the average age of marriage has gone up over the years due to non-availability of suitable girls. In a complete reversal of roles, now the boy’s families begin scouting for suitable girls as soon as the boys come of age.

The picture may appear rosy for the girls on the surface, but the disturbing news is that the imbalance is leading to a gradual increase in sex related crimes.

Though no official record of castewise male-female ratio is available, it is learnt the ratio for upper castes and upper middle class families is considerably lower than that of so-called lower castes and the economically weaker sections. This is attributed to the greater prevalence of female foeticide among these sections of society as compared to the poorer sections.

Col Wazir Singh (retd), who has been in the business of making matches for over two decades as a hobby and social service, said till the late eighties boys from well-to-do families began getting offers even before they got jobs. The scene had now changed completely.

Mr Bhag Chand Sharma, a retired revenue official, said never in his life had he noticed so many eligible bachelors in the village in the age group of 25 plus. “Twenty years ago, in rural Haryana, boys from well-to-do families were generally married by the age of 20.Mr Sharma pointed out the alarm bells had been ringing for quite sometime but society did not appear to have fully woken up to the gravity of the situation. He said the atta-satta system under which the boy’s family married off one of its male relatives into the prospective bride’s family in exchange we now coming in vogue again although the exchange took place between far off relatives of the two families only.

Though dowry continues to be widely prevalent still, elders say there has been a noticeable change in the attitude of boys’ families in this regard. Among the upper castes, which are the most affected by the dwindling sex ratio, no formal deals are being made about dowry. The boys’ parents are generally happy with whatever the girls’ parents give on their own, says Mr Ganeshi Lal who runs a popular marriage bureau in Kurukshetra district.

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