Responses to India's "missing females": Wives for rent, daughters for sale Print E-mail
June 19 2006

India rent-a-wife business grows as men seek spouses

AFP

MUMBAI, India -- A shortage of eligible single women has prompted some poverty-stricken husbands in western India to rent out their wives to other men on a monthly rate, according to a news report on Monday.

One man allowed his farm laborer wife, and mother of two, to stay with her boss for Rs8,000 ($175) a month, said the Times of India citing police officials.

Poor families and middlemen have also cashed in on the shortage of women by selling off their daughters to men in Gujarat, one of India's wealthiest states.

Brokers can make up to Rs200,000 rupees a month from finding and selling wives to single men in the state of some 50 million people, according to the newspaper.

"We cannot take action against this activity as no one comes forward to lodge a complaint," deputy superintendent of police, Naresh Muniya, at Ankleshwar in southern Gujarat, told the newspaper.

"We do not rule out the possibility of minors being married off to the rich," he said.

India's 2001 census showed that there were 921 women to every 1,000 men in Gujarat. India has a widespread problem of female feticide because of fears of the high dowry costs linked to having girls.

The practice of giving dowries, while banned in the 1980s, remains common in India's male-dominated society with families impoverished by the giving of cash and goods to the groom on marriage.