In Denganmal, a village in Maharashtra state, some men take a second or third wife just to make sure their households have enough drinking water. Becoming what are known as “water wives” allows the women, often widows or single mothers, to regain respect in conservative rural India by carrying water from the well quite some distance from the remote village.
When the water wife, who does not usually share the marital bed, becomes too old to continue, the husband sometimes takes a third and younger spouse to fetch the water in metal pitchers or makeshift containers.
In Maharashtra, India’s third-largest state, the government estimated last year that more than 19,000 villages had no access to water. (Reuters)