It is estimated that almost 8 million people are living in conditions of modern slavery in India (GSI 2018). The skewed sex ratio in some regions of India has fuelled the trafficking and selling of women and young girls as brides within India. Women are reportedly sold off into marriage by their families, sometimes at a young age, and end up enduring severe abuse, rape and exploitation by their husbands. It is also reported that women and girls from impoverished backgrounds have been lured by promises of marriage by younger men from urban areas, then forced into sex work once married.
Veeramma was forced to marry at the age of 12. She works along with her husband on a cottonseed farm, however she does not receive the money she earns. After 3 years of marriage, at the age of 15, Veeramma is worried about not having children, fearing her relationship with her husband if she does not conceive
I have one younger sister while a younger brother died of dog bite. My father was an alcoholic and accumulated debts of about Rs.40,000. My mother discontinued our education and took us to work along with her. My father developed jaundice but continued to drink and he committed suicide by hanging when I was 12. I was married less than a year after his death. My mother was in a hurry to get me married as she had no confidence in me or of my safety. My husband was an orphan and was taken care of by his father’s young brother. After marriage, we set up our own home. I was scared to live with him alone and asked my mother to keep me company while I got to know him better. Now, I do all the work at home and also work as casual labour. We work together at a cottonseed farm. He takes all my earnings and goes for marketing alone. But he lets me wears dresses and sometimes a sari. We also visit my mother together. We have never been to movies or any outing, only to my mother’s place. I am married for three years now and have no children. My husband regrets this sometimes when neighbours comment about it. I also feel bad. I am not able to confide in my mother about not having children. This is a recent development.
Narrative provided by M Venkatarangaiya Foundation in their report ‘…and they never lived happily ever after. The battle for justice goes on: Voices of married girls in Telangana’