Women empowerment cannot be narrowed down to their ability to work, their capacity to buy things and their education. If we ever draw a rough graph on precisely how a woman should be treated as opposed to the opposite gender, we need to put some apples in both the baskets – not more, not less.
So while all of us busy getting our girls educated, cherishing the way they have landed jobs, lauding their decision to marry or not marry and harping about how many of them have created a fortune for themselves without a man helping them, there are bunch of these women, from the same coterie, who are being sold off.
Talks on women empowerment and feminism may be at its peak but a village in Madhya Pradesh has no idea about it whatsoever. In Shivpuri district located in central India, the Gwalior Division of northwest Madhya Pradesh, men can rent a woman on the monthly or yearly basis. Called Dhadeecha Pratha, rich men in the village who cannot find themselves a wife or partner pay to have a wife for a short period of time. The money they pay in return could be as low as a few thousand. To make it credible, they sign the deal on stamp papers worth Rs 10.
Men have an option to renew the deal once it ends. The higher the rental amount, longer the time period the woman stays with the man. Women are made to stand in the market from which the men choose them. The practice is quite prevalent in Gujarat too.
In 2017, an Indore-based man had sold his wife for Rs 30,000. The couple had gone to attend a marriage ceremony where the husband struck the deal. The woman, a mother of four-year-old was raped multiple times and sold to a man from Shivpuri district. The woman somehow managed to escape from their clutches and went to her home. A case was registered in the incident and the woman’s husband was arrested.
Men selling their wives for money are not new in the country. A similar incident happened in 2006 when a man in Gujarat sold his wife to a rich businessman for a monthly rental of Rs 8000. The crime has become everyday news in the country now. During times when we encourage girl child education, more women in the workforce, inclusivity, talks on crimes against women, a dark cloud sits constantly on the women in Shivpuri with no idea of the freedom in the outside world.