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Women's group decries Punjab wife-sharing

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CHANDIGARH, India, Sep 16, 2005 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- In India's Punjab state, with only 793 women for every 1,000 men, the practice of several brothers sharing a wife is growing, a national women's group says.

The National Commission for Women is concerned about the practice -- termed "fraternal polyandry" by sociologists -- which it says is degrading to women, the South China Morning Post reported Friday.

Commission chairwoman Girija Vyas said some women were forced to have sex regularly with up to seven brothers. She said the practice was spreading.

Punjab is the richest province in India, yet it has the lowest female-male ratio due to female abortion and infanticide.

Gurpreet, a 32-year-old woman in Punjab's Mansa district, said she had married the eldest of three brothers, but after she had a son, her husband forced her into a sexual relationship with his younger brothers, including one who was only 16.

Although polyandry is illegal in India, authorities said it is almost impossible to stop it because such marriages are not formalized.

Copyright 2005 by United Press International.

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