Kunchalakoracha community has a tradition of selling them

It may sound shocking, but it is true. Widows are being sold by their in-laws in Pavagada taluk. Among the rituals and customs followed by the Kunchalakoracha community is the tradition of selling widows.

The elders of the community do not consider this a crime.

According to the elders, widows are “unwanted” and a “burden” to their families.

Women belonging to the community at Aapbande in Pavagada town confirmed that for several years now many of their friends, who were widows, were sold to rich people of the same community. They work as “bonded labour” in the houses and fields of their “owners”, they alleged.

Nagamma (48), whose husband, Ramanji, died of tuberculosis seven years ago, was sold by her in-laws to a rich man of the same community.. “After Ramanji died, I stayed in my father-in-law Surappa's house for a while. But, Surappa sold me to Maddalaleti of Ramagiri village in Madaksira taluk of Andhra Pradesh for Rs. 30,000,” said Ms. Nagamma.

She claimed she was sold against her wishes and she had protested against the “sale”. “When Maddalaleti tried to take me away, I protested and tried to hit him with a sickle. Maddalaleti was terrified and he fled the village,” Ms. Nagamma said.

All she wanted was to take care of her four daughters. She now lives in a tiny hut covered with polythene sheets at Aapbande.

But what was worse was that she was forced to pay Rs. 60,000 to Maddalaleti (including interest and penalty) for reneging on the “deal”. Even her relatives and neighbours did not support her, fearing that they would be ostracised.

Pavagada tahsildar Manjunath said: “We have not seen any such practice in the taluk. It is a secret affair. However, we will hold an awareness programme against such social evils.”

Deputy Commissioner of Tumkur Somashekar said: “I have instructed officials of the Social Welfare Department to conduct a survey in Pavagada taluk about this tradition.”

There are around 300 families belonging to the community staying in different parts of Pavagada taluk.

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