Saturday, October 24, 2009

Wife selling in India

The practice of selling off family members to help pay debts is still prevalent in India. Many times rural farmers will need loans if their crops fail. Rural farmers go to crooked money lenders who charge very high interest rates. Once the interest comes due, the money lenders often ask for the wives of farmers as payment. The low social status of women in India helps to continue this social ill to this day.

From CNN, reporter Sara Sidner touches on the status of women in the country and details on once such incident.

Ranjana Kumari with India's Center for Social Research says the exploitation of women is common in the region. And, she says, there is little support for women in India who have the courage to file a case with authorities.

"Nobody's going to support or help them," Kumari says. "If a family decides not to help them, the system is already not so sensitized towards them, whether it is police, judiciary, whether the legal system. So the women themselves tend to withdraw these cases."

In another village, another story involving another farmer, and money lender.

"I sold my water engine and land and gave back his 30,000 rupees," the farmer says, describing his $600 loan payment.

The farmer, whom CNN is not identifying to protect his wife and children, says the lender then asked him to send his wife to help with chores while the lender's wife was sick. The farmer says he complied, and his children -- including his daughter -- went too.

But the mother never returned. The farmer says he believes she was stolen from him. The daughter says the lender sold her mother to another man.

State authorities say they have investigated the matter and found that the mother denies she was sold and has simply gone to live with a lover.

The daughter says that's not true, and claims that she and her father were told to keep quiet by some of the village leaders. During CNN's interview with the family, officials with the state magistrate's office barged into the farmer's home and began videotaping.

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