Take passports of NRI husbands to stop divorce ?

A proposal to impound or cancel the passports of Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) who desert or harass their wives and higher financial aid for abandoned wives could reduce the number of marital disputes and divorces among Indian expats in the UAE, experts dealing with these issues have said.
A high-level committee constituted in May by the Indian Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) last month recommended impounding or cancelling the passports of NRIs who harass their wives or desert them.

Following several complaints lodged by women deserted by their NRI husbands, the nine-member panel headed by retired judge Arvind Kumar Goel looked into various legal and regulatory challenges and suggested measures to address them.

Financial aid to abandoned wives

These include bringing domestic violence under the ambit of extradition treaties and increasing financial aid provided by Indian missions to abandoned wives from $3,000 (Dh11,000) to $6,000, Indian media reported.

Making registration of NRI marriages mandatory and inserting important details of the NRI spouse in the marriage registration certificate and creating a national mechanism involving the Ministry of External Affairs and the National Commission for Women to deal with desertion by NRI husbands are among other major proposals.

Legal and psychological experts, who deal with marital disputes and divorce cases, reported to the Indian missions and Indian Workers Resource Centre (IWRC) in the UAE have welcomed the proposals.
“The proposition to impound passports of NRIs who desert or harass their wives, although a stiff measure, is certainly a welcome initiative and the need of the hour due to the steady rise of cases of such nature in recent times that are reported to the Consulate General of India and IWRC in Dubai,” Sailaja Menon, a member of the panel of psychologists providing counselling at the IWRC, told Gulf News.
“I have often noticed that as much as we are able to educate the client about abuse, intervene and provide immediate support for stability and safety, and help the client to build on her core strengths and develop a safety plan, the much-needed intervention is missing — the involvement of the abuser, the one who is engaged in harassment, abuse and neglect.”

She said this is most often the case because they are unwilling to attend sessions or they have absconded or abandoned the abused spouse. “This puts us in a bind to track and provide the required intervention as it is not within the scope of the counselling programme.”

Ex parte divorces

This is the very reason for a high number of ex parte divorces [granted after hearing only one side] among NRIs, said advocate Bindu Suresh Chettur, a member of the panel of lawyers providing legal counselling at IWRC.
“There are so many incidents where wives have gone back to India without knowing that their visas have been cancelled. When they try to come back here, they get stuck at airports,” she said.
Albeit ex parte divorces obtained from foreign courts being invalid in India, Chettur said, deserted wives have to fight a long legal battle to prove their version in such cases even as the Indian Penal Code have several sections to safeguard the interest of women cruelly treated by husbands or his relatives.
However, wives of Indian expats here are not getting the benefit of these laws. “That is because Indian judiciary does not have the jurisdiction to try the accused overseas and procedural laws like the Indian Penal Code cannot be invoked here.”
“It takes minimum one year to impound passports of NRI husbands if they do not attend the cases filed against them in India by deserted wives. Many are not able to get this done also. If this proposal is implemented, Indian missions can impound the passports of the abusive husbands and deport them for surrendering before the courts in India,” said Chettur.
In such cases, she said, no consular services will be provided to the accused. “He will have the permission only to travel to India and cannot return unless the court gives bail. I strongly feel that this measure can help reduce the high number of such cases among the UAE’s Indian community.”
Cases and causes

The Indian Consulate in Dubai alone has registered hundreds of marital dispute cases in the past five years, the mission said in a statement sent to Gulf News. Last year, it recorded 140 cases whereas 126 cases have been registered so far in 2017. Divorce cases are not registered with the consulate as they follow legal procedures, the mission said. According to Chettur, the most common causes of marital disputes and divorces among Indians here are extramarital affairs and bigamy.
“When a wife wants to file a case of bigamy here at a police station, it often becomes difficult for her as it is allowed here according to Sharia,” she observed.
Most of the cases of harassment against wives, Menon said, have a potential to come to some form of agreement and understanding if the couple accepts, seeks and engages in counselling, and also addresses, understands and learns ways to stop the abusive and harassing patterns and arrives at a mutually acceptable agreement.

However, Menon pointed out that it is not just women who fall victim to domestic abuse. “I worked on a case the other day where the husband was physically, verbally and emotionally abused and he had reported it to police and courts. I have seen many such cases here. Zero tolerance of abuse is applicable to both men and women and rights of men also need to be protected equally in such cases.”

[Article repost from GulfNews ]

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