M A I N   N E W S

Give a bride to take a bride
Ruchika M. Khanna
Tribune News Service

Gangateri (Karnal), August 29
Literally, it’s a man’s world in this part of Haryana. In Gangateri and surrounding villages of Popra, Jhimri Khera, Jogi Khera and Kol Khera of Asandh block in the heart of Jatland, the sight of a girl child or a young woman is indeed a rare event.

Strangely, almost every family in these villages seems to beget only sons. Though the villagers blame it on nature, claiming that the majority community of Ror has always had more boys than girls, some village elders are ready to concede the truth.

“Everybody here is desirous of having sons. Most of them get ultrasound scans done during pregnancy and in case of a female foetus, they get it aborted,” says a candid Shanti Devi of Popra village, who herself has seven grandchildren, incidentally all boys.

In Gangateri, Mr Kishen Singh, who is also the president of Asandh block of the Congress Seva Dal, has two sons. His neighbour, Mr Mahavir Singh, too, has two sons only while Mr Jaipal Singh, son of the village Sarpanch, Ms Ganga Devi, also does not have a daughter.

“I have heard that some people are getting female foetuses aborted. I have been advising the villagers against this practice,” says the Sarpanch and her husband, Mr Sumer Singh.

Interestingly, the school enrollment figures speak volumes about the severely skewed sex ratio in these villages. The Government Primary School at Jhimri Khera has 71 boys and 38 girls. The Government Senior Secondary School for Girls at Popra has 297 girls, while the Government Senior Secondary School for Boys in the village has 521 boys. These schools cater to all five villages.

While boys of every age can be seen playing around the muddy roads or young men lazing under peepal trees, there are very few girls in these villages.

Though the sex ratio in these villages has always been low, its social repercussions are creating a different problem. With few girls of marriageable age now left in the village, there is a growing population of unmarried men here.

In fact, a new kind of exchange programme has been devised by the villagers — one can get a bride for himself only if he offers his own sister as a bride into the family he wants to get married into. Like Pappu of Gangateri, who had to marry off his two sisters — Pinky and Anju — to Kuldip and Pradip of Sach village. In exchange, Kuldip and Pradip allowed the marriage of their sister, Gita to Pappu.

Mr Sumer Singh said he had to give his daughter in marriage to Preet of Morkhi, and then only could he get Preet’s daughters — Meena and Reena — to be married to his sons Jaipal and Satish.

While those who have younger sisters of marriageable age get a bride for themselves, others like Mr Sukhram Pal of Jhimri Khera are forced to remain single.

Says Mr Giani Ram, father of Mr Sukhram Pal, “My daughter was elder to my son and was married off several years ago. Now, I cannot find a bride for my son because I do not have a daughter to give in return for marriage. Like several other persons, I, too, will have to buy a wife for him from outside the community — may be from Sirmour in Himachal Pradesh or from Bihar or Assam,” he says, disillusioned.

Agrees Mr Suraj Mal of Popra, “Buying of brides is very common here. At least 70 girls in the village have been brought by agents and sold in the village in the past 10 years”.





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