When Sadhuram Berwal wanted to get married, his family went about it in the traditional Indian way, asking relatives, neighbors and local temple priests to suggest a young woman. But after an extensive search among women of his caste in his area, no suitable bride could be found.
A larger factor had narrowed the field sharply: a skewed male-female ratio that is particularly pronounced in his home state of Haryana, in India’s north, due to sex-selective abortions in a society where many families prize boys over girls, mostly for economic reasons.
Through a friend, Berwal eventually found a woman 2,700 kilometers (1,700 miles) to the south, in the state of Kerala, who was willing to marry him. But with a different language and profoundly different customs, she was overwhelmed by her new life.
That dramatic decision more than 10 years ago shocked his village of Sorkhi at the time but has become increasingly common these days in northern India, where the dearth of eligible women is starkest.
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