India is one of the world’s fastest-growing economies. An economic boom has brought with it a new wealth and consumerism. But India also has the largest number of slaves in the World. And in addition to poverty and desperation, the new prosperity has brought in its wake a new form of slavery- Bride Trafficking.
For the past 20 years, bride traffickers have preyed on vulnerable young women from India’s vast rural surroundings, promising to deliver them into a traditionally arranged marriage. But in reality selling them over and over into a life of sexual slavery and forced labor. Once a woman has been sold, her status within her new village is defined by the derogatory terms “Paro” or “Monkey”, meaning a purchased woman. She is used as a product and treated like baggage.
Haryana state is one of the hot spots for bride trafficking in the country with women being brought in from the far east of the country thousand kilometers away, and it’s no coincidence that Haryana state also has one of the largest differences in the ratio between men and women. But the consequences of this can be devastating. In a small place, next to a local mosque, a group of women from nearby villages were gathered to talk about their lives as traffic brides. All of these women say they have been transported to Haryana from far-away parts of rural India, taken from their families against their will by traffickers who used a mixture of false promises and violence. They were then forcibly sold into marriage, some of them many times over.