says her disfigured face is a constant reminder of the most
terrifying night of her life – her wedding night.
just went crazy. He said he wanted to kill me and lashed out
at me with a knife and cut my face.” said Sonal, tugging a
blue scarf covering her head to hide slash wounds on her left
student from the north Indian city of Chandigarh thought she
was heading for a prosperous new life in the West with a British-born
Indian doctor after he chose her from scores of women who
replied to his ad seeking a bride.
leaving her family and homeland to live in the U.K., Sonal
found her new husband was a fraud.
mentally sick and wasn’t a doctor and didn’t have a job. His
family tricked me and now my life is finished,” she said.
groups say every year hundreds of starry-eyed girls seeking
a better life in the West are duped into wedlock by men of
Indian origin living in diaspora – in countries like the United
States, Britain, Canada and Australia – mostly for money.
of Indian men in the West come here and advertise in matrimonials
every year,” said Yogesh Mehta from the National Commission
for Women, a government body for women’s rights.
many are honest about who they are, there are also a lot who
lie about their jobs, economic and marital status often to
get the dowry,” he added.
– often jewelry, expensive clothing, cars and money – are
given by the bride’s family to the groom and his parents,
traditionally to ensure the bride will be comfortable in her
outlawed in India more than four decades ago but still widely
practiced, is often exploited with the groom’s family demanding
more money in return for not abusing the bride.
groups say the number of women marrying men of Indian origin
living overseas or Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) is rising proportionately
as the Indian population overseas increases.
there are an increasing number of complaints from women who
are victims of fraud or “cheat” marriages.
we get around three complaints just to our ministry alone
from women who are victims of these marriages,” said one official
from the ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs.
a serious issue which needs to be tackled as some of the stories
of what happens to these girls can be quite shocking,” the
the women go abroad after the wedding only to find themselves
abandoned with no one turn to, no money, no ability to speak
the local language and no knowledge of the norms and customs
of the alien country.
women tell tales of being battered or kept prisoner in the
home and treated like domestic workers. Some even find their
new husband is already married to someone else.
are also cases of “holiday brides” – women abandoned in India
within days or weeks of marriage with the husband promising
to return once visa arrangements have been made for his wife,
but never actually doing so.
are no accurate numbers on how many fraudulent marriages take
place, but some reports say India’s northern state of Punjab,
which has a large community overseas, has so far registered
15,000 cases alone.
states like Gujarat and Kerala have also seen cases.
say the number of deceived brides is under-reported with many
unwilling to speak out, fearing the shame and stigma associated
with being a divorced or separated woman in traditional Indian
parts of India, a match for their daughter with an Indian
living abroad is coveted by parents lured by the prospect
of greener pastures for the entire family.
not to let go of such lucrative offers, the families often
ignore the common cautions that are observed in traditional
marriage proposal comes from a man in India, then checks are
made about him and his family through mutual acquaintances
and other ways,” said Sneha Singh, a social worker and victim
of a fraud marriage to an Indian living abroad.
it’s an NRI no one bothers to check anything because he is
from the West so he is thought to be rich and respectable.”
say social awareness campaigns must be held advising families
to check a groom’s background – perhaps through his voter
registration card, social security number, employment record
and tax returns – which would show his true status.
argue legislation must be reviewed as even those brides brave
enough to seek justice get entangled in a web of legal complexities
due to the different laws pertaining to marriage in India
and the country where the NRI husband is from.
suggest bilateral pacts with countries with a large Indian
population to facilitate recognition and enforcement of foreign
divorce decrees, child custody orders and property rights.
must also make it compulsory for marriages to be registered
which will give more legal protection to the duped bride,
women’s groups add.
Bhalla. Source: Reuters