The Dark Side of the Marriage Squeeze: Violence Against Cross Region Brides in Haryana, India
In terms of economic development, Haryana is one of the most developed North Indian states of India. Despite the economic prosperity and increase in literacy levels there is a continuous downward trend in child sex ratios. The gender imbalance has led to in an excess of males resulting in a ‘male marriage squeeze’. Scarcity of brides is a serious consequence of skewed sex ratios. Currently, at least one in every four men between the ages of 30-45 years stands to remain unmarried. As smaller cohorts of girls are born (due to fertility decline and prenatal elimination), fewer of them grow up and become part of adult marriageable cohorts. To address bride shortages, Haryanvi men have been bringing brides from distant states like Assam, Bengal, Bihar, Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Kerala or even Nepal and Bangladesh.
Though much research has been done on the issue of domestic violence against women in general across caste, class and community, yet there is paucity of empirical research on the incidence, nature and severity of violence the long distance brides face in their conjugal families. In the present paper an attempt has been made to examine the social status, acceptance and treatment of such women who find themselves in a culturally alien setting. What is the nature and intensity of violence? How do women react to it and cope with the situation? Is there any kind of support for them from their natal family, or from the local community or from state agencies such as police?