In the parched village of Denganmal (Maharashtra), there are no taps. Because of the water crisis, marrying for water has been the norm for many in the village. Though polygamy is illegal in India, in this village, ‘water wives’ are common, reports Hindustan Times.
Denganmal village is a cluster of about 100 thatched houses set on an expanse of barren land, where most men work as farm labourers, barely earning the minimum wage. The only drinking water in the village comes from two wells at the foot of a nearby rocky hill.
Bhagat, 66, who works as a day laborer, now has three wives, two of whom he married solely to ensure that his household has water to drink and cook. He said:
“I had to have someone to bring us water, and marrying again was the only option. My first wife was busy with the kids. When my second wife fell sick and was unable to fetch water, I married a third.”
In Maharashtra, India’s third-largest state, the government estimated last year that more than 19,000 villages had no access to water. India is again facing the threat of a drought this year, with monsoon rains expected to be weaker than average.
So, are women happy with this arrangement? Bhagat says the women, some of them widows or abandoned, are also happy with the arrangement. His first wife, Tuki, said:
“We are like sisters. We help each other. Sometimes we might have problems, but we solve them among ourselves.”