Matrimonial sites: Behind the promised bliss 

According to a study conducted by the Associated Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the online matrimony business was expected to touch $250 million by 2017 and is expected to grow by leaps and bounds

Aditya Wadhawan

We often hear that marriages are made in heavens. However, in today’s India, it seems that God has appointed matrimonial sites as a catalytic force for the past 15 years or more. The changing times have made matrimonial alliance portals very significant players in arranging marriages. These are corporate entities. According to a study conducted by the Associated Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the online matrimony business was expected to touch $250 million by 2017 and is expected to grow by leaps and bounds.

According to The New York Times, there are 1500 matrimonial websites in India, Bharat Matrimony, Shaadi.com, Jeevansathi.com, SimplyMarry.com, Community matrimony. com, Second Shaadi.com, VivahBandhan.com being some of the prominent ones. But not all is smooth and well with the way some of these sites run their business. Many people put up fake profiles on these sites and dupe, cheat and harass innocent clients, particularly parents of women clients.

There is little internal mechanism to weed out fake profiles. People are also generally very unhappy with the specialised matrimonial services that these online companies offer to their clients for which they charge as much as six times more than their normal rates. One of my relatives was recently at the receiving end of this so called specialised service. He explained his misery as, “We paid to avail for the Special Matrimonial Service of Shaadi.com for which we paid ₹24000 for a three-month service contract. As part of this contract, the service of a special representative from the matrimonial site was assigned to us for finding a compatible match for our daughter.

Three special representatives were changed during these three months due to one or the other reason.

Nothing worthwhile was offered by Shaadi.com during this period because with every new representative, we wasted a lot of time and energy explaining our preferred choice for the potential groom. The so called specially screened list of potential grooms for our daughter had already been screened by us during our personal screening efforts. The list of the potential grooms was hand-picked from already existing choices in the general category.

There was no separate exclusive list. It was a total waste of time and money.” In another case, the parents of a girl were searching the profile of a boy. The boy claimed he was an IAS officer. The boy asked the girl’s parents to forward the photograph of their daughter to his whatsapp number and her parents complied with the request. However, when the parents of the girl later searched the boy’s profile on the site of Department of Personnel Training (DoPT), they found that he was not an IAS officer.

Nothing worthwhile was offered by Shaadi.com during this period because with every new representative, we wasted a lot of time and energy explaining our preferred choice for the potential groom. The so called specially screened list of potential grooms for our daughter had already been screened by us during our personal screening efforts. The list of the potential grooms was hand-picked from already existing choices in the general category.

Subsequent searches on Google revealed that the boy was an instructor in some professional coaching institute. After receiving the photograph, he deleted his profile from the matrimonial site. The photograph in his possession can potentially be misused.

Priyanka Mehta, from Mumbai, wrote on quora that she and her family were cheated by Shaadi.com as they had paid for a relationship manager who was supposed to assist them in finding a suitable match. But they were unable to find a match and asked Priyanka’s family to pay again for resuming the services as the three-month contract period was over.

DCP Anyesh Roy of Delhi Police, who heads the special cell, said, “There aren’t many cases related to fake profiles being created on matrimonial sites.” However, he added that in the month of April a case was registered. A 41 year old BBA graduate, Anurag Mahendiratta from Dwarka in Delhi, was arrested for duping over a dozen women on matrimonial websites. He impersonated as the head of a leading media house based in Mumbai. Mahendiratta was booked under Section 419 of Indian Penal Code and 66D of the IT Act.

As far as the matrimonial sites are concerned, the functioning of these sites should be strictly regulated with expert help from the cyber crime department of the police. It will help a great deal in ensuring safety and security of women in such a vital matter as marriage.

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