The Controversial Practice of Rental Wives in Madhya Pradesh

In certain areas of Madhya Pradesh, rental wives are common. But what is this practice and why is this happening?

The Controversial Practice of Rental Wives in Madhya Pradesh f

Fees can be as low as Rs. 10,000 (£93) a year.

Renting cars, houses and other things are common in India but have you ever heard of rental wives?

In India, there is one place where such a practice exists.

In the inland villages of Madhya Pradesh, Dhadicha Pratha involves renting wives for a period ranging from one week to one year.

This controversial practice is a reflection of deeply rooted socio-economic challenges and cultural norms.

However, it is marred with controversy.

Despite India’s advancements in gender equality and women’s rights, Dhadicha Pratha continues to persist, highlighting the complex interplay between tradition and modernity.

We delve into the intricacies of this controversial practice.

Why are Rental Wives Common?

The Controversial Practice of Rental Wives in Madhya Pradesh - common

Dhadicha Pratha is deeply rooted in local customs and socio-economic conditions.

In this system, women are effectively rented out to wealthy men, who pay a sum of money to the woman’s family or guardians in exchange for the temporary marriage arrangement.

The terms of these arrangements vary, but they are typically formalised for a specified duration, often between one week and one year.

The practice is driven by several factors but the main one is when men fail to find a bride.

Other factors include poverty, social pressure, and the lack of economic opportunities in these rural areas.

For some families, renting out a wife under this system is a quick way to make money.

For the men involved, it offers a way to fulfil their need for companionship and domestic help without the long-term commitments of traditional marriage.

The Process

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In a detailed YouTube video, Keerthika Govindhasamy explained the process of renting wives.

Firstly, both parties work together to agree on a rental fee and duration.

Once the deal is finalised, a contract is drawn up and is signed off with a government stamp.

Keerthika says: “In that stamp paper, it will be mentioned how many days that particular woman will have to stay with the man.”

Fees can be as low as Rs. 10,000 (£93) for a year-long rental. Weekly rental can be just Rs. 100 (93p).

Whether it is one week or one year, once the duration of the agreement is over, the woman will be sent back to her parents or husband.

She is then usually rented out again to another man, starting the cycle all over again.

Known as ‘Molki’, the woman’s ownership can be transferred for a higher amount and the contract can be renewed should the man want to continue renting her.

Despite the apparently regressive nature of it, Keerthika explained that the woman can withdraw from the contract whenever she wants. However, she is not empowered to use it.

In order to withdraw, the woman must give an affidavit.

After that, the woman should return the pre-determined rental amount to her ex-husband.

Women accepting more money from another customer is also a breach of the contract.

Controversy

The Controversial Practice of Rental Wives in Madhya Pradesh - contro

While this practice is specific to certain areas and communities, it raises significant ethical and legal concerns.

Typically, the younger the female the higher the price is.

Unmarried girls are rented out by their parents while married women are rented out by their husbands.

Sometimes, prices reach up to Rs. 2 Lakh (£1,800) if the female is a virgin, good-looking and has a curvaceous figure.

To get more money from customers, parents even give their daughters drugs to increase the size of their breasts.

According to Keerthika, wealthy men are renting wives because they do not have to spend lots of money on a wedding.

She says:

“At the same time, they don’t even have to get stuck with one single woman for the rest of their life.”

As rental wives, women and girls have sex with men and in some cases, it is unconsented.

Not only are they raped by their ‘husbands’ but by his male relatives also.

The justification for this is that they have rented a wife for sexual pleasure.

Due to this, women contract deadly diseases such as HIV.

They also get psychological trauma but there is no one they can speak to.

Dhadicha Pratha often leads to the exploitation and commodification of women and girls, treating them as property rather than as individuals with rights and autonomy.

Moreover, these temporary marriages typically lack the legal protections and social support mechanisms of conventional marriages, leaving women vulnerable to abuse and neglect.

Even though the police are aware of such practices, no legal action is taken as there are no complainants. It is only girls from poor households who fall victim to these practices.

Real Stories of Rental Wives

The Controversial Practice of Rental Wives in Madhya Pradesh - story

Some women who were rented out as wives have come forward to detail their ordeals.

Reshma*, who was rented out by her parents when she was eight, said:

“I was too naïve to understand what was going on until I realised that I was married off to a man four times older than me!”

Priced at Rs. 60,000 (£560), her parents rented her on the condition that the customer could only have sex with her when she reached puberty.

But on the first night of the rental, she was raped by her ‘husband’ and his brother. The rapes continued for a year.

After the contract expired, she returned to her family to be rented again to another man.

Fortunately, after being a rental wife to nine different men, Reshma reached out to an NGO where she was made to understand that her ordeal was not her fault. She was later sent to the child welfare home.

Mahira* was a rental wife when she was just 14 years old.

She recalled: “While I tried to escape that night, he suddenly grabbed me and attacked me with a knife!”

Meanwhile, Saiba*, who was rented by her brother to a widower, said:

“I wanted to run away on the very first night of my wedding. I cried for help but nobody came!”

She revealed that she was forced to sleep with multiple men every night.

This controversial practice is not just happening in Madhya Pradesh.

Similar cases have been reported in Gujarat, Rajasthan, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, where market days are held for renting wives.

A few non-governmental organisations have recognised the issue and are striving to bring it into the spotlight.

They are working diligently to raise awareness that the buying and selling of women is a crime.

However, villagers often argue that this practice is an integral part of their customs and a significant source of income.

India has laws against bride trafficking, such as the Immoral Traffic Prevention Act and provisions in the Indian Penal Code that penalise trafficking for commercial sexual exploitation and forced labour.

Despite these legal frameworks, research indicates several loopholes in the legislation regarding trafficking and slavery.

These gaps complicate the understanding and recognition of such practices, making enforcement and protection challenging.



Lead Editor Dhiren is our news and content editor who loves all things football. He also has a passion for gaming and watching films. His motto is to "Live life one day at a time".

*Names have been changed to preserve anonymity




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