Apparently in Nepal, it’s okay to simply kidnap a woman from her family, take her home, and marry her. This sounds simple enough, but there are a lot of rules.

“Boy’s family members whisk away the girl of their liking for marriage,” concedes a senior citizen of Chepuwa. Fearing social stigma, the snatched girls accept the ‘marriage’. The girls can go to maternal homes shortly after marriage on the condition that they return. According to local people, the boy must compensate the girl’s family if he marries someone else during the girl’s stay at maternal home. The girl’s family must pay the boy’s if she elopes.

It seems that India has a simpler system. Just install indoor plumbing, and the brides come to you.

Courtship can be an intricate business in India, but the mothers of the northern state of Haryana have a simple message for men who call on their daughters: “No toilet, no bride.”

The slogan – often lengthened in Hindi to “If you don’t have a proper lavatory in your house, don’t even think about marrying my daughter” – has been plastered across villages in the region as part of a drive to boost the number of pukka facilities. In a country where more households have TV sets than lavatories, it is one of the most successful efforts to combat the chronic shortage of proper plumbing.

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