'Wife-Sharing' a Growing Problem in India

India is facing a demographic crisis that is negatively impacting its female population and causing the rise of a newly emerging phenomenon known as “wife-sharing.”

The emerging phenomenon was highlighted by a recent Reuters report that took an in-depth look at the growing issue of “wife-sharing” in the rapidly developing country.

The news agency spoke to victims of the phenomenon that shared their experiences of the horrifying practice.

One such victim named Munni told the news agency that she had been unaware of the fate that awaited her when arrived to a new village to marry her future husband.

Upon arrival, Munni was forced to have sexual encounters not only with her husband, but his single brothers that were unable to find brides as well.

She said, “They took me whenever they wanted – day or night. When I resisted, they beat me with anything at hand.”

The violence and abuse that Munni faced is a mounting problem in India where a traditionally patriarchal society mixed with years of destitute poverty has resulted in a troubling demographic disparity between the male to female population.

The demographic problem often referred to as the “missing girls” phenomenon is not unique to India, and has resulted in 160 million missing girls across South and East Asia.

The result of the “missing girls” phenomenon is coming to a dangerous head, as countries such as India and China struggle to face the issues of a demographic imbalance that are placing women, particularly impoverished women, at considerable risk of rape, kidnap, forced marriage, and forced prostitution.

In some areas in India, such as the Baghpat district, the demographic inequality ratio is quite high, standing at 858 women per every 1,000 men.

The national average in India is 940 women per every 1,000 men, but in small and impoverished communities the number of women to men is typically inclined to be lower, and numbers indicate that the problem appears to be getting worse.

A study recently published in the medical journal The Lancet found that within three decades 12 million girls were aborted in India and now the child sex ratio now stands at 914 girls to 1,000 boys.

Although, practices such as sex-selective abortion and human trafficking are illegal in the country, they pervasively persist and violence against women, in all its forms, is particularly troubling in India.

Rape is considered to be the fastest growing crime in the country and practices such as “wife-sharing” are growing more common and more acceptable in small communities.

Bhagyashri Dengle, the executive director of a charity working in these issues known as Plan India, told Reuters, “We are already seeing the terrible impacts of falling numbers of females in some communities.”

Dengle added, “We have to take this as a warning sign and we have to do something about it or we’ll have a situation where women will constantly be at risk of kidnap, rape and much, much worse.”