Late last month, it was reported that there was a “twist” in the tale of the Muzaffarpur wedding kidnap case. It was widely reported that a groom had been kidnapped in Bihar and forced to marry a woman by her family, police had arrived at the wedding and beaten the bride and her family members for kidnapping the groom, and the groom ran away. The twist is that the groom revealed that the wedding took place with the consent of both families, and that he had actually run away because he felt afraid when he saw the police pull up (don’t blame you, bro).
But we were pretty surprised to find out today that apparently, groom-kidnapping isn’t rare at all: marriage by abduction happens really frequently in western Bihar and eastern Uttar Pradesh, and it’s known as Pakadwa Vivah or Jabaria Shaadi. The weddings take place when the grooms are selected, kidnapped and made to tie the knot held at gunpoint. There’ve been 3000 reported cases of it in Bihar in 2016 alone, and 830 in 2017 so far. Crime records indicate that while the rates of boys below the age of 18 being kidnapped is low in Bihar, it has the highest rates of kidnap of adult men above the age of 18. Clearly, these “marriages by abduction” have something to do with it.
The reason behind the rise of such marriages in this region is understood to be dowry. When families find themselves unable to pay exorbitant amounts of dowry to grooms (as remains the custom here and in many other parts of India despite demanding dowry being of course all kinds of illegal) they resort to kidnapping grooms and forcing them into marriage at gunpoint.