NRI Brides From Region Face Max Desertions

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Jan 7, 2005
Metro-Vancouver, B.C., Canada

NRI brides from region face max desertions
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 21
Punjab continues to top the list of states witnessing bride desertions by their NRI spouses.

When it comes to foreign lands from where maximum harassment of married Indian women is being reported at the hands of their husbands, the USA leads the pack, with 130 of the 331 cases recorded in the last one year by the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs. The UK with 44 cases, Canada with 37 and Australia with 23 are next in the line. The USA and the UK account for around half of such cases.

Back home, the situation in North India is grim, with NRI brides from Punjab facing severe harassment; 87 cases of Punjabi women left in the lurch by immigrant men were reported in the last year. Data with the ministry, which is now working with the National Commission for Women, to evolve bilateral mechanism to protect Indians married abroad, shows that desertion is both an urban and rural phenomenon.

This explains why the second position goes to Delhi, where 59 such cases have been recorded in just one year. Andhra Pradesh (with 32 cases) comes next in the line, followed by Haryana and Tamil Nadu (21 cases each), Uttar Pradesh (19), Gujarat (17), Maharashtra (16), West Bengal (13) and Madhya Pradesh (four).

Even women from strife-torn Jammu and Kashmir are now facing harassment at the hands of immigrant husbands, who often leave them in the lurch, making matters worse in cases where the separated couples also have children.

That the trend is rising is evident from 177 cases that the NRI Cell on NCW premises has registered in the six months that it has been functional. Counselling is on in 125 cases, with the NCW now pushing for a separate legislation to cover NRI affairs, especially matrimonial disputes, maintenance of women and children, ex parte divorces, alimony, settlement and transfer of matrimonial property, succession and personal laws.

“We have written to the government to consider bilateral agreements with countries like the USA and the UK where NRI brides land in difficult situations and ex parte divorces are obtained by husbands taking advantage of easy separation laws prevailing in those countries,” Girija Vyas, chairperson of the NCW said.

The commission is also pushing for India to exercise its rights under Article 10 of the Hague Convention of 1968 which clarifies that nations are not bound by judgments taken in other countries, especially if they run contrary to their own laws.

Changes in the Passport Act of 1967 and the Hindu Marriage Act were also being mooted, said Vyas, disagreeing in general with Women and Child Development Minister Krishna Tirath’s view that dual passports for women marrying abroad, would help.

“I can’t comment on that. But we are recommending changes to the Passport Act,” she said, calling for a central legislation for mandatory registration of marriages to ensure coverage of every woman marrying abroad. The NCW is also preparing a website where information about such women will be fed.

“We want to make it mandatory for NRI men marrying Indian women to give an undertaking regarding their latest whereabouts and credentials. We should also know their family line-up so that we can contact people if they leave their wives behind. In most cases, matrimonial families refuse to fend for the abandoned women,” Vyas said.

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