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India: Mysogynist rural kangaroo courts in Rajasthan oversee sale of girls to settle debt

Friday 4 November 2022, by siawi3


India: Mysogynist rural kangaroo courts in Rajasthan oversee sale of girls to settle debt
Two editorials

4 November 22

The Telegraph

High bids: Editorial on torture and abuse of women in Bhilwara
The Rajasthan district reveals the deep-set belief that women can be bought and sold to settle monetary matters between men

The Editorial Board | Published 02.11.22

It would not be surprising if the combination of poverty, casteism and misogyny were to destroy the fabric of society. But it is alarming when this combination holds the social fabric together. Without this combination, people in the Bhilwara district of Rajasthan would not know how to pay off their debts or settle financial disputes. Reports indicate that the district has a system of auctioning off girls to settle debts or money quarrels. The refusal to sell a girl results in the mother being raped. All this is overseen by khap panchayats. Since these caste bodies are outlawed, their systematic activity is likely to have come to the notice of the administration — and reports about the system have been emerging for at least three years. The sale is done through stamp paper. What is most shocking is the apparent unawareness — or inertia — of the administration regarding girls from eight to 18 who are being auctioned off into slavery, sexual exploitation, abuse and torture and sent to other states and cities under the official veneer of stamp papers. Responding to a media report, the National Commission for Women has formed a task force to investigate the matter, while the Rajasthan Women’s Commission will be making monthly visits to identify the villages in which this system operates.

The NCW chairperson has asked the chief of Rajasthan police to institute action and has written to the chief secretary demanding to know what has been done or will be done. Not only is the hideousness of caste domination, oppression of the poor and vicious treatment of women laid bare in this system, so also is institutional complicity. Bhilwara reveals the deep-set belief that women can be bought and sold to settle monetary matters between men. The police chief said that his force has arrested some kidnappers and rescued a few girls. With the police so diligent, how can the auctions continue? If the State is serious about the unspeakable breach of human rights and humanity in the abuse, humiliation and terror of the girls, the inquiry into the trafficking ring should not be a cosmetic attempt to win brownie points. A system in which girls are sold via stamp paper demands the police’s full and impartial attention. All that is needed is unwavering political will. Unless that is obsolete.

o o

The Tribune


Girls sold to repay loans
Getting to the bottom of Rajasthan shocker is vital

Oct 31, 2022

THE National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and the National Commission for Women (NCW) have done well to initiate action by taking suo motu notice of a newspaper report which says that men in Rajasthan are selling their young daughters and sisters to repay loans. CM Ashok Gehlot, who initially tried to dismiss the report as an ‘old one’, has had to bow down as clamour grew over the horrible happenings. Along with the CM’s promise of catching and punishing the guilty, the NHRC and NCW intervention should instill fear of the law of the land into anyone commodifying women.

Inevitably, the sold girls end up being sexually abused, tortured, enslaved and trafficked. One such girl, a minor whose father had to sell her for Rs 6 lakh, is reported to have been sold three times and become pregnant four times. The moneylenders are rich sharks who exploit poverty-ridden families stuck in the quagmire of loans taken for the treatment of a sick family member or other exigencies. The scenario raises concerns about the prevalence of an organised trafficking ring run by the high and mighty, enjoying impunity. A thorough investigation and exemplary action against the criminals are warranted.

This regressive mode of justice is being delivered by caste panchayats, whose writ still runs in many rural areas of North India. The disputing parties prefer to approach these kangaroo courts; non-compliance of the verdict is a crushing ostracism from the community. Settling matters of marriage, inheritance and also, apparently, loans, these panchayats have been largely known for ordering the ‘honour killing’ of couples who opt for inter-caste or inter-faith marriages. It is abominable that such practices giving ownership rights over girls and women to men should still be around in this age. Education of both boys and girls is the key to gender equality and justice. It can change notions of what constitutes right and wrong. That some khaps in Haryana are tilting towards progressive ideas is encouraging and should inspire Rajasthan.