You must have heard Rent-a-car, rent-a-bike, rent- a-house, rent-a-womb but rent-a-wife? Yes it’s true. Here is one such tale from a village in Madhya Pradesh. Here women are given out on rent to the richest man or the upper class male who cannot find consorts. The woman in the village supplied as wife for a month or for yearly rental basis. The story immediately signifies how women have been actively reduced to a lifeless object trade in the village.
Dhadeecha Pratha in the Shivpuri district of Madhya Pradsh, the practice involves signing over a woman for lease on a stamp paper. With the use of these stamp deeds worth Rs 10, Rs 100, women are rented to a man in need. There is also a market in the village here where girls are made to stand in the name of the custom and men decide the cost of the girl of their choice.
After the successful stamp deed, the woman has a new consort and the cycle runs till the woman is available. The higher the sum, the longer the time she gets to stay with one man.
This practice is not limited to this state only but has been reported in Gujarat as well. Due to female infanticide, scarcity of women in these areas is in huge. There has been a case when a Gujarati labourer Prajapati leased his spouse Laxmi to a wealthy zamindar of the area for a month. The exchange earned him 10 times his monthly salary. The deal desires her to live with the man and share his bed and take care of the kin as well. This has become a well-paid trade opportunity for many villagers in the Gujarat-Madhya Pradesh belt. In some situations the women were sold for prices as low as Rs 500, while in some other their families are paid up to Rs 1,00,000 for marrying their daughters to men from certain lower communities.
Apart from the diminishing female population in these areas, touts or middlemen who persuade such business also prey on the family’s poverty.
No action has been taken since none comes forward to protest, say the local police, all the while acknowledging the existence of such illegal trade in these areas.