ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Sex Ratio, Khaps and Marriage Reform

The move by the Satrol khap of Haryana to relax some restrictive marriage norms and induct women and youth into the khap is perhaps a response to demographic and market economy challenges. Patriarchal structures get challenged when material conditions alter. Besides the skewed sex ratio, a generational transition is also underway. More off-farm work and greater nuclear living detach individuals from traditional structures of support and force them to strike out on their own.

The recent move by the Satrol khap of Haryana to relax restrictive marriage norms and induct women into khaps appears like a revolutionary move for these hidebound and regressive bodies. The head of the khap, Inder Singh Mor, has stated that members can now marry among its 42 bhaichara (brotherhood) villages, decreasing somewhat the difficulties of finding brides in this state that suffers from a skewed sex ratio and bride shortage. Even more impressively, the khap has decided to allow inter-caste marriage, a relaxation that strikes at the very heart of caste endogamy, the marriage norm primarily responsible for reproducing and maintaining caste boundaries. Perhaps an even more revolutionary step has been the creation of a woman’s wing of the khap; traditionally khaps have been all-male institutions dominated by older males that enforce social control over their communities in keeping with rigid patriarchal, kinship, age and gender norms. Sudesh Chaudhry has been appointed the head of this wing and it seems has been especially tasked with ensuring the smooth transition to intra-bhaichara village marriages. Breaking another tradition, Mor is also urging youth to become members of khaps and voice their opinions on matters of concern.

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