By Shobhan Bantwal
Author of THE DOWRY BRIDE – On sale now
Recently I read an article in Newsweek titled “The Bride Buyers.” At first I was shocked and dismayed to read about some website called MarryourDaughter.com that offered young girls for sale as brides. Teenagers of 15 and 16 years of age were being offered by their parents for thousands of dollars. What was more, the site got millions of hits within a week after it appeared on the Web. It just goes to show how many pedophiles are lurking in cyberspace – a frightening prospect!
However, later on the article explained that the whole thing was a hoax, and I exhaled a breath of relief. The website’s creator, John Ordover, a viral-marketing consultant based in Brooklyn, N.Y. set it up as an experiment to see where it would go. It looks like he was rather surprised himself at how many hopeful grooms were willing to pay hefty sums of money to acquire pretty and accomplished pubescent girls, and how many crazy parents were actually insane enough to place an ad to sell their daughters.
This article brought to mind my own debut novel, THE DOWRY BRIDE, a story set in India about a young bride, Megha, who is coerced into marrying a man who is willing to accept the lowest dowry. Even that small dowry is too high for her debt-ridden parents and her in-laws are about to kill her for not producing the promised money. Megha discovers the murder plot in the nick of time and escapes. She embarks on an extraordinary journey to freedom with the help of a young man who puts his own life on the line to protect her from a gruesome death by fire. More information is on my website: www.shobhanbantwal.com
Upon reading the Newsweek article, I sadly realized that the dowry system in India, although the opposite of bride-price (buying a bride instead of buying a groom) is no less perverse than the idea behind www.MarryourDaughter.com. Many desperate parents, in the hope of finding their daughters a good husband and a secure home, are willing to go into debt for life to raise enough money to pay an acceptable dowry.
If there was such bizarre websites in India and other parts of the world where dowry is blatantly practiced despite laws banning the custom, the title could easily have read: www.MarryourSon.com or www.SonforSale.com. The only difference would be the price – the lower the asking dowry the more flurry of interest from potential brides and their families.
Unfortunately this type of site would probably receive millions of hits each and every day. The sadder part is that neither the law enforcement agencies nor social codes of ethics seem to deter the folks determined to grab a dowry.
Read the Newsweek article: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/20781129/site/newsweek/?GT1=10357
Author of the Book Promo 101 Series