Of Cabbages and Kings

June 7, 2007

The stuff that horror stories are made of

Filed under: Across the Universe — Chinmayi @ 3:45 pm

In certain regions of India, they have this tradition of killing female babies. This tends be paired (oddly) with this other practice of paying a king’s ransom to men who marry the daughter that one begot through misfortune or bad taste (since all daughters should rightfully be murdered at birth) or both.  I always wondered what happen once the Herod style baby extermination worked and there were no more women to marry and to get dowry from.

If there was a scarcity of women, I reasoned, demand would rise and  they’d suddenly be worth a lot more. Perhaps dowry would turn into bride-price and people would covet daughters some sort of balance was achieved. Wrong. So wrong.

Here’s what actually happens: Having successfully ensured that there is no such thing as a woman from their community, traditional men scour other poorer villages (with no fancy abortion technology)  for women. They buy the women like cattle or slaves and work them like cattle or slaves. If a family can afford just one women, then she gets to do all the chores and all the men. [Read Mrinal Pande’s article about it]

Funny…that in a country where morality means women should dress ‘decently’ and morality means that women should not be out late without a male escort or even work night-shifts, morality does not mean that the state will protect women from being sold and used as slaves.


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