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Stopping traffic

LWR boosts effort to halt Indian bride trade

Ranjit sits on the floor, her 2-year-old daughter on her lap. Neighbors and family fill the main room of the small house in a farming village in Nayagarh, a district of nearly 800,000 in the Indian eastern coastal state of Orissa. Nearly all have heard her story. But this day they've come to hear her tell it to outsiders, visitors from Lutheran World Relief.

A story of old sadness and of new strength, it's Ranjit's tale of being caught up in the trafficking of women — a variation of accounts collected during a yearlong project funded by LWR. In a clear and steady voice, Ranjit begins: "My husband beat me. His family beat me. I refused to go to the forest to collect wood."

Ranjit's family of origin had accepted the offer of a trader in colocasia — the region's main food crop — to also take Ranjit and find her a husband in the state of Uttar Pradesh. The going rate for such a trade, $100 to $400, eases the burden of poor families who can't come up with the required $600 dowry to make their own marriage arrangements.

While the trade was flourishing, its young female victims weren't.


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