Mass Indian Marriage Saves Eight Girls from a Lifetime of ProstitutionS

An Indian human rights organization called Vicharta Samuday Samarthan Manch organized a mass wedding yesterday for 8 women 18 years and older from the village of Vadia, nicknamed the "village of prostitutes," whose female residents are generally expected to enter the sex trade. VSSM works primarily with marginalized nomadic communities and conducted the mass wedding as way to save at least some of the Vadia's young women from following village custom. Mittell Patel of VSSM said the marriage offers a way for these women to break the cycle of exploitation. "Marriage," she explained, "means that the young girls will be saved from the traditional profession of prostitution. Once the girl gets married or engaged, she cannot be forced into the flesh trade."

Another 12 girls under 18 were scheduled to marry too, but their grooms never turned up, which, in this situation infuses the cliche of an empty altar with fresh sadness. Nevertheless, nearly 3,000 people attended Sunday's celebration, marked with a poem by a Gujarati writer: "I am not the fruit of your love; I came to this world owing to your profession, I don't blame you for this." Residents hailed the event as historic in a country where arranged weddings are extremely prevalent, and in a region where poverty compels residents to economize their nuptials by organizing such mass ceremonies.

Mass wedding in ‘sex worker village' [Agence France Presse]