It is estimated that almost 8 million people are living in conditions of modern slavery in India (GSI 2018). The skewed sex ratio in some regions of India has fuelled the trafficking and selling of women and young girls as brides within India. Women are reportedly sold off into marriage by their families, sometimes at a young age, and end up enduring severe abuse, rape and exploitation by their husbands. It is also reported that women and girls from impoverished backgrounds have been lured by promises of marriage by younger men from urban areas, then forced into sex work once married.
After marriage, Rajyamma’s mother-in-law forced her to work long hours without rest while she was pregnant. After giving birth to a boy, Rajyamma returned to her in-law's house and continued to work, being forced to give all her earnings to her husband.
My mother-in-law never tolerated me taking even a minute’s rest. ‘This is not the first time that a woman has become pregnant. When I was young, I worked twice as hard. I never complained’, she said, even before I expressed that I was too tired, especially because I was carrying. I quarrelled with my husband asking if he cared at all. He scolded me and said, ‘How can you not work?’ Don’t you know that one day of rest is a loss of Rs. 200-300 as wages?’I worked and worked till the time I was full term. On seeing me becoming weak, I was sent home to my mother’s. I delivered a baby boy, but was too weak to return to my in-laws house immediately. Now, I have returned and work on cotton seed and chilli farms. I migrate for seasonal work carrying my son everywhere. My husband takes no interest in me or my son. He grabs all the wages I earn. He goes out with his friends and only infrequently takes me to my mother’s place which is 50 km away.
Narrative provided by M Venkatarangaiya Foundation in their report ‘…and they never lived happily ever after. The battle for justice goes on: Voices of married girls in Telangana’