The Practice of polyandry where a woman marries more than one person at the same time is not unusual in India, especially in the northern parts of India, like Haryana. This is an age-old custom seeped in the roots of our country. It takes us back to the Indian legend, called the Mahabharata. The epic talks about the marriage of five brothers, Pandavas, with a woman called Draupadi.
And, if one believes that we have moved far ahead of such practices, and deduce on the basis of the current situation in the developed cities of India, then this bubble of illusion should be wrecked. As many tribal communities in Haryana and other remote rural parts of the country are still following this praxis. People following this often say, we are following what our ancestors did . It is now perilously spreading across the nation.
This blind faith in our epics and scriptures is only a one-sided study of the whole situation; by delving deeper into it, one will find many horrendous reasons replete with such cases of women abuse. Gender-specific abortions and female foeticide are also the chief reasons for practising polyandry. And, when speaking about Haryana, instances of female foeticide are uncurbed here, and it has severely led to the skewed gender ratio. Despite the fact that many such cases of female infanticide for want of a male heir are brushed under the carpet, many facts and figures are still available that speak for itself.
According to the census report of 2011, sex ratio in Haryana was 879 per 1,000 males, and whereas male literacy rate stood at 84.06 percent, female literacy rate was only 56.91 percent. A report by United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in 2007 warned that the deficit of the female population in the marriageable age (20-49) by the year 2030 is going to reach 25 million. An alarming concern indeed, which has already given us distress signals. Dr. Madhav Mohan Godbole, the director of Balgrah, a centre for rehabilitation in Rai, Sonepat recently said, Villagers come to us and plead for brides. They say if we can't fix them up, they will be forced to buy girls . Facing the situation of female deficit, even local candidates contesting elections promise to give brides in lieu of votes. Not only this, eligible Jat boys from Haryana even frequently travel to Bengal, Jharkhand, Orissa and other states to seek brides. The exchange rates depend upon the age of the girl and her virginity, which starting from Rs. 6,000 can go up to Rs. 10,000.
With cases of female genocides widespread in Haryana, it has brought with it other evils of child trafficking, kidnapping, buying and selling of girls, female abuse and polyandry. In Haryana one can find ample cases of modern Draupadis wedded to two or more husbands. In 2006, the ugly denouement as a result of polyandry in Haryana was the murder of 18-year-old tribal girl. She was sold as a bride in a Haryana male-dominated family of a farmer. She paid the price for playing the role of Draupadi to her husband and his brothers. There are so many such cases where a wife is the property of a group of brothers.
And if all this continues, this eventually will drag Haryana to a stage where it can be without women. It reminds us of a very moving and disturbing film Matrubhoomi: A Nation Without Women. Imagine such a scenario. Isn't that horrifying? In all this, it is a deplorable situation, where the current state government is neither interested in removing these ills nor focusing on efforts to get a grip on spreading awareness about it.
unicef.org; Census 2011