Wives Scarce in Indian Village Facing Water Shortage

June 2, 2003

Men in a remote village in the desert of western India are struggling to find wives, as women flee the community because of an acute water shortage, according to a local newspaper report.


Would-be brides are reluctant to marry into families in the village of Saderi, 300 miles southwest of New Delhi, because they would have to walk long distances every day to fetch water, often in intense heat, Hindustan Times said.


More than 10 wives who tired of the hardship have walked out on their husbands, as taps and wells in the village run dry in the blazing summer months, according to one abandoned husband, Jagat Chadar.


"My wife kept saying she will not fetch water. One day when her father came to meet her, she left with him and never returned," Chadar said.


The newspaper said there are about 80 young men in Saderi who are looking for brides.


In a reversal of Indian tradition, where brides pay huge sums for the hand of a groom, the men in Saderi are offering to pay dowry in a desperate attempt to woo women to their village, the report said.


One villager, Nanhe Bhai Dangi, 35, said he has offered $1,060 to any woman willing to marry him and settle in Saderi, but has had no takers so far.


There are no sources of water in the village, which depends on three hand-operated pumps and two wells located one mile downhill from the community, the newspaper reported.


Carrying water from wells is viewed as women's responsibility in Indian society where men and women have traditionally defined roles. Men work in the fields while women are responsible for the home.


At Saderi, the women face a grueling uphill climb balancing pots of water on their heads in Rajasthan's searing heat where temperatures can touch 111 degrees Fahrenheit during the summer months.

Source:

The Associated Press

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