Monday, June 26, 2006

Some husbands in western India are renting out their wives to other men, cashing in on a shortage of single women available for marriage

Associated Press:

Atta Prajapati, a farm worker who lives in Gujarat state, leases out his wife Laxmi to a wealthy landowner for $175 US a month, the Times of India reported, citing unidentified police officials. A farm worker earns a monthly minimum wage of around $22.

Laxmi is expected to live with the man, look after him and his house, and have sex with him, the report said.

The Times said this was not an isolated incident in the western state, and that several men rent their wives to other men on a month-by-month basis.

Gujarat officials were unwilling to comment on the report when contacted Monday by The Associated Press.

The male-female ratio is becoming increasing skewed across India because many parents abort female fetuses, preferring sons to daughters.

Female children must be married off, and to achieve that a daughter's parents usually have to pay the groom's family a dowry of cash and gifts — often a massive burden on the parents' resources.

Dowries were outlawed in 1961, but the practice is still common and the law ill-enforced.

The nationwide number of girls per 1,000 boys declined from 945 in 1991 to 927 in 2001, according to the 2001 national census. But in wealthy Gujarat state, the census showed 828 females for every 1,000 males, although officials say the number could be as low as 700 girls per 1,000 boys in parts of the state.

It is not unusual for wealthy families to hire housekeeping staff in India, but prostitution is illegal.

The lack of marriageable girls in Gujurat has also led to booming business for bride brokers, who are paid to find a woman for a man to marry.

Brokers charge a groom's family up to $1,520, and the girl's family will receive around $435, the newspaper said.

Rent wife for Rs 8,000 a month in Gujarat


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