Jharkhand girls married off in Rajasthan and Haryana are facing a fresh diktat from their husbands and in-laws to not visit their parents till they become mothers.
There is no relief for the girls, some of whom are minors and most of whom are from impoverished families, as their parents do not protest or lodge complaints with the police due to poverty and social taboos. The revelation came to the fore when a minor girl from a slum in Jamshedpur, Jharkhand’s steel city, refused to marry a groom from Rajasthan and instead knocked the doors of Childline for help.
In her complaint, the girl from Bage Basti said one her relatives married a boy in Rajasthan and could not return home till she delivered a baby after several years. “I do not want to get married in the family that debars a girl from visiting her parents till she becomes mother,” the girl said.
Chairperson of the district child welfare committee (DCWC), East Singhbhum, Prabha Jaiswal said she had received similar complaints in the past. “Few women from the slum areas came to me recently, seriously regretting their decision to marry their daughters out of their culture to grooms from Rajasthan and Haryana. They said their daughters were not allowed to meet them till they became mothers,” she said.
Due to the dismal gender ratio, several unmarried men from Rajasthan and Haryana have started looking for girls from slums and rural areas of Jharkhand. While Rajasthan’s sex ratio is 926 women against 1,000 men, in Haryana, it’s a dismal 903.
A local woman from a slum said the insecurity of losing their brides forced the men of Haryana and Rajasthan to impose newer and stricter travel plans for their brides, especially when it comes to visiting their parents.
“Once the girl becomes a mother, it is understood that she will have no option but to return to her in-laws, even if she is not happy with them,” the woman said.
Childline has similar cases coming to them from Chakradharpur, where a few girls married to boys in Punjab and Kashmir have not returned to their parents since.
Chairperson of DCWC in West Singhbhum, Vikas Dodrajka, said: “We have formed village-level child protection units to collect information about such girls. The committee is spreading awareness among villagers against child marriages and asking them to inform police if their girls are prevented from returning home.”
Deputy superintendent of police cum special juvenile police officer in Jamshedpur, Kailash Pramanik, said two minor girls taken away on the pretext of marriage were recently rescued from Punjab.