Blog, stories and articles on personal issues and challenges faced by South Asians and Non Resident Indians (NRIs)

Battered Half

The incidence of fraudulent NRI marriages is on the rise, but the crime goes largely unpunished. There are hundreds of cases being reported in the media. The National Commission for Women (NCW) receives a number of complaints on phone and through e-mail everyday, from desperate women abroad duped or dumped by their NRI husbands.

There are thousands of others languishing in their village home waiting for the call from America or Canada that never comes. Lying, cheating, false promises, unreasonable dowry demands are just some of the things unfortunate NRI brides have to put up with, not to mention divorce, desertion and abduction of children.

According to NCW there are nearly 15,000 women deserted by NRIs in Punjab alone. Gujarat, with a substantial NRI population, also has a large number of battered women in need of help. When things don’t work in a cross-country marriage, women are especially vulnerable.

Stranded in a foreign country, often without any financial support, they have no one to turn to. The government needs to come to their rescue. The decision of ministry of overseas affairs to appoint volunteers in countries with a high density of NRIs and PIOs to carry out a background check of prospective grooms abroad has remained just on paper.

It is time the scheme was taken up in real earnest. With globalisation the number of NRI-Indian marriages is on the rise. It is seldom possible for brides’ parents in India to verify the credentials of the NRI grooms. Dubious marriage bureaus make things worse.

There is need for some institutional mechanism of getting authentic information before these long-distance marriages are finalised. Indian missions abroad could help out with the task in conjunction with local NGOs, and even come to the rescue of victims of fraudulent NRI marriages.

More than that, the police and law enforcing agencies in India need to be more sympathetic in dealing with them. In complaints involving influential families it is difficult to get even an FIR recorded.

The government needs to bring in a comprehensive regulation to ensure that all the protection accorded by the law to Indian women with regard to marriage, divorce, maintenance, inheritance and custody of children apply to victims of fraudulent NRI marriages. The NCW’s draft document prepared sometime ago could serve as the blueprint. From TOI

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