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Rajo Verma, a 24-year old Uttarakhand woman who is married to five brothers
Most of us are aware of polygamy, a social arrangement in which a man can take multiple wives. But in this small village in the Indian state of Uttarakhand, polyandry is practiced. Polyandry is a marriage system that permits a woman to have multiple husbands. This marriage system was evolved as a practical way of controlling population and preventing the division of family property.

This system might sound peculiar to those of us who live in metropolitan cities within the confines of modern society, but this system has been practiced for centuries in certain Indian villages, where limited farmland is available for multiple sons. 


As per this marriage system, a women is found, who matches the age of all the brothers of a family and married off to them. They all live in the same house and work on the same land. Such polyandrous families seldom produce more than six to seven children, keeping the population in check too.


24-year old Rajo Verma, a resident of a small village near Dehradun, lives in a one-room shanty with five siblings. The mother-of-one, sleeps each night with a different brother, based on a set schedule. She does not even know which one of her husbands is the biological father of her son.


Rajo and her first husband Guddu had married a few years ago in a Hindu ceremony. Since then she has married Baiju, Sant Ram, Gopal and Dinesh – all four brothers of Guddu.

First husband Guddu, who remains Rajo's official spouse, says, "We all have sex with her but I'm not jealous. We're one big happy family."

The entire family sleeps on blankets laid out on the floor, as they do not have beds. Rajo says that when she got married, she knew what to expect, as her own mother was married to three brothers.

She says, "Initially it felt a bit awkward. But I don't favour one over the other," adding, "I get a lot more attention and love than most wives."

With widespread modernization, this archaic practice of fraternal polyandry has mostly died out in India. But, it somehow has managed to survive in some northern Himalayan regions of India and Tibet. The reason this practice has still survived in India and China is the poor sex ratio in both these countries, as there is shortage of women for young men.

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