NRI marriages made in hell

Kudi chali kaneda — This is a very popular line heard from Punjabi when their girl is getting married to a NRI based in Canada. It means, the girl is off to Canada.

But the dream is turning sour and NRI marriages appear to be made in hell. In just six months, the National Commission for Women (NCW) has registered 350 complaints, that is almost two cases every day. Not surprisingly, the maximum number of cases come from United States (52) and UK (17). However, there are nearly 14 cases from Australia indicating the spread of the Indian diaspora.

Of the 350 complaints registered between September 2009 to March 2010, the maximum come from Delhi (23), followed by Punjab (16), UP (15), Maharashtra (11) and Haryana (10).

Several cases relate to women married and deserted in India by husbands after a short honeymoon while in others, women have been left stranded at the airport or in a foreign country without any support. There are others where women have been subjected to assault, battery and abuse or have been tricked into a divorce.

While in many cases, so-called aggrieved husbands complain of harassment, there have been many instances (if you read the forums they write on), where the wife is waiting for 3-5 years for the hubby living abroad to file his reply to her complaint. And while writing this, on the forum itself, they term themselves harassed or aggrieved without considering for a moment how his wife and children would be existing all by themselves.

An NRI cell was set up by NCW in September 2009 following consultations with other ministries like overseas Indian affairs, stakeholders like NGOs and civil society. The commission has recommended a separate legislation to address issues including matrimonial discord, maintenance of spouses and children, child custody, settlement of matrimonial property amongst others.

A separate legislation can hopefully serve as a comprehensive ready reference for foreign courts deciding litigation between NRIs and Indian citizens. This is also likely to address the concerns raised by Law Commission on the absence of rules.

NCW has also recommended compulsory registration of marriages and has appealed to the Centre to urge governments of all foreign countries, specifically where there is a large NRI presence, to give effect to the spirit of Article 10 of the Hague Convention.

The commission said the ministry of external affairs, through its embassies abroad, should sensitise the home departments of foreign countries about issues regarding dowry demands and other matters facing women.

Suggesting amendment in the Hindu Marriage Act to ensure protection of rights of victims of failed marriages, NCW said registration of NRI marriages should be made compulsory. She said there was scope for changes in the process of issuing passports.

So while people are realising how the dreams can turn awry getting married in India itself, going abroad can be grave.

Men often blame that women are keen to get themselves hooked onto a NRI with the greenbacks and good lifestyle in eye rather than a nurturing relationship with a human being involved. However, while blaming women, they fail to accept why they are so keen for an Indian bride. If you are so keen about your partner being an Indian, why not pick a local born person of Indian origin. Why an Indian girl born and brought up here? The true reason is that you want an obedient maid servant at home while you can continue earning your dollar. Subservience is never going to work anywhere and its high time men start living that.

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