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Dalit women of Jharkhand being forced into false marriages

Dumka, Sun, 04 Mar 2012 ANI

Dumka (Jharkhand) Mar 4 (ANI): Sunita Kumari, a twelve year old Dalit girl from Balthar Mod, Jharkhand, a student of class seven, was forced into marriage not once but twice. Her first tie-up was at the age of seven with a mentally challenged person residing in the nearby Siktia village.


Soon after the marriage Sunita escaped from the trap and the first thing she did after coming back was to request her mother to let her study and not tie her up again with some stranger. But to her penniless mother, her cries did not make the impact.


Kamal Mahto, a middle man and the conspirator behind the plot, with the help of one Baby Devi, arranged for Sunita's marriage with Danshram of Rath village of Hameed Pur district in Uttar Pradesh against a'small amount' of Rs. 50,000. Sunita overheard the conversation and with the help of her friend alerted the villagers who informed the police and raided Mahto's house. All those involved were arrested and Sunita could be saved.ut not everyone will be as lucky as Sunita as there are many more Kamal Mahto's roaming freely in the rural hamlets of the state.


Jharkhand is one of the worst affected states in India and the fact is confirmed by the governmental agencies, the National Commission for Women, the National Human Rights Commission, and various reputed NGOs. When it comes to women and child trafficking, it has become one of the fastest growing forms of criminal activity in the region.


In the villages of Santal, the most vulnerable victims are the teenage daughters of destitute Dalits and Santal Adiwasi community. In the guise of marriage, the middle- men sell these girls to aged men who take them to states of Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab and Delhi. To hide it from the villagers, fake ceremonies are carried out and innocent girls are compelled to move to the other states, never to come back again.


This infamous phenomenon of coerced marriages has spread its roots in the region over a decade and at present has affected each and every district, block of Santal Paragana Division. With no voice being raised at the social or administrative level, the innocent girls continue to suffer.


Two girls from Dhajapada village, Masanjor Thana, Dumka disappeared two years ago and so far, there have been no news related to them. Similarly, four girls disappeared from Dhowandgal village. In Ranishwar Thana region, parents of about 15-20 girls are waiting for their daughters to come back.


For Shambhu Kapri of Jama Dharmpur the wait is of several years now. A labourer by profession, Shambhu after the death of his wife was worried how to bring up four small kids. The eldest daughter was 14 years old. One day, one of his relatives proposed to marry off his daughter to a 'good' man. The man was of Shambhu's age but helplessness got its way and the eldest girl was married.


While narrating this unfortunate incident, Shambhu had tears in his eyes - "I overlooked everything. The happiness of seeing my daughter in good clothes and jewellery was the only emotion I could feel. Unknowingly, I sold my daughter to that cruel man. Today, I am clueless, helpless - please bring my daughter back."


The disappearance of over 200 girls from various villages of Santal indicates the gravity of the issue whose network spans from Uttar Pradesh to Punjab and Haryana. The agents keep a track of the impoverished families and a whole web is created to trap the females of such families. They give money to the families in pretext of arranging the marriage and give them only a day or two so that the parents don't even get time to ponder upon the fact that they actually are selling their daughters.


According to the dwellers, police do not take any initiative on their own and wait for the victim's family to lodge an F.I.R. When an F.I.R. is lodged, police quickly nabs the culprit, but very few dare to file a report at the police station.


It is evident and known to all that for last one and a half decade, there has been an upsurge in the rate of human trafficking, more so in women and children in Jharkhand. It intensely affected the areas of Santal Pargana. Every year, about 100-150 girls are being sold in Delhi, Haryana and Panjab.


It is a tragedy that the local women, who mostly belong to poor families and caste, are victims. The voice raised by the non-government organizations against this human trafficking fall on deaf ears as there is rarely any solid social, political and administrative initiative taken in this regard.


If this goes on, the Charkha Development Communication Network feels, Santal Pargana will soon become a hub of false marriages and the daughters of poor Dalits and Adiwasis will be trapped in this inhuman life forever; bound to live every moment of it. By Ashok Singh (ANI)


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