Personal Stories >>
August 29, 2007
NRI EYE: Deserted wives or ditched husbands: Who to pity?
about the poor Gulf Malayalee who finds out one fine morning
that ! his pretty young bride married him only for his wealth
and that she now wants to leave him and spend the rest of
her life by bleeding him of alimony? Not fair, you'd say.
Yet, more and more of the fair sex are now said to be looking
at non-resident Indian grooms either as a stepping stone to
a visa if in the West or a lifetime of easy maintenance money
if in the Gulf.
as a parliamentary committee has called for stricter norms
to protect Indian women from being exploited by 'unscrupulous'
NRI husbands, a non-governmental organisation has demanded
steps to curb the misuse by self-seeking brides of Section
498A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
Parliamentary Committee on Empowerment of Women tabled in
its report on the "Plight of Indian Women Deserted by
NRI Husbands" before the Lok Sabha last week. It has
asked the government to consider enactment of uniform personal
laws for all religious communities on marriage/divorce, maintenance,
property rights and related issues and incorporate special
provisions in them with regard to NRI marriages.
committee, chaired by Congress MP Krishna Tirath, has also
desired that all marriages, irrespective of religion, be compulsorily
registered. "In marriages with NRIs, such registration
will not only help a woman fight her case if deserted, but
also enable the Embassy to have full information about the
marriage while keeping a track of the erring NRI husband,"
may be recalled that the Women and Child Development Ministry,
has already proposed a law for making registration of marriages
compulsory for all religions. The Law Ministry is understood
to be of the view that registration of marriages should be
compulsory for only Hindus.
committee suggested that the marriage certificate for NRI
marriages be issued in duplicate to facilitate deserted women
to fight their legal battles, that the government should take
immediate steps to become signatory to the Hague Conventions,
especially the ones related to NRI marriages, and that the
government should enter reciprocal bilateral treaties with
countries where Indian diaspora is in large number to deal
exclusively with cases of fraudulent NRI marriages.
report has recommended that special cells be set up with Indian
missions abroad to address problem NRI marriages. It also
suggested that the Indian Passport Act be amended to incorporate
a provision where the erring husband's passport could be cancelled.
report was based on inputs from the Ministry of Overseas Indian
Affairs, Ministry of Ex! ternal Affairs, National Commission
for Woman, NGOs and aggrieved women.
the other hand, international NGOs like Rakshak and 498a.org
have spoken up for the hapless NRI groom ditched by greedy
Indian brides. Rakshak is an international organisation dedicated
to elder abuse and is working in close conjunction with 498a.org,
an international forum engaged in researching the impact of
misuse of gender biased laws such as Section 498 A of the
phenomenon of abandoned brides is one that has received huge
media attention, but a new trend of "vanishing brides
and abandoned grooms" has somehow escaped attention,
Dr Anupama Singh of 'Rakshak' was quoted as having said recently.
a teleconferencing session in New Delhi last week, several
NRI men recounted ! stories of having been dumped by unscrupulous
wives who take advantage of gender-biased laws by filing
false cases of domestic violence and dowry abuse to harass
and extort money.
Singh says the statistics speak for themselves: Against the
number of 152 cases registered of "abandoned wives",
the number of cases of "abandoned grooms" is around
700. Also, the courts have declared 80 per cent men charged
under Section 498-A were innocent, she pointed out. Section
498-A of the IPC is a criminal law in which the wife and her
family can charge any or all of the husband's family for physical
and mental cruelty.
organisations have cited scores of cases in which, they claimed,
NRI grooms were used to acquire a visa of a foreign country
and then abandoned by their wives. There are also cases where
women suffering from mental illness were married off to N!
RI men by with-holding information and later 'false' dowry
cases were filed by the bride's families to extort money,
the organisations claimed. Rakshak has made representations
to top Indian authorities including the President of India,
judges and ministers, including the Minister of Overseas Indians
Affairs. They allege that the officials were "persistently
refusing to consider the issue". They accused the ministry
of "acting under undue pressure and influence" from
Commission for Women and the women and child development ministry.
Peninsula / By Moiz Mannan