Indian government is formulating a plan to help abandoned NRI wives get justice

Indian government is formulating a plan to help abandoned NRI wives get justice

  • Thousands of cases have been reported wherein a man severed ties with his wife a few days after their wedding and left her behind in India without any information whatsoever.
  • NGOs believe that in Punjab and Gujarat alone, around 25000 women have been abandoned by their spouses.
  • The Ministry of External Affairs received 3,328 distress calls from NRI women between 1 January 2015 and 30 November 2017 — an average of more than three calls a day or one every eight hours.

It is a tale as old as time, or at least the past few decades anyway, Indian parents can’t help but leap at the prospect of getting their daughters (and sometimes sons) married to Non-resident Indians (NRI) in the hopes of securing a brighter future for them abroad. However, the sheer number of such marriages going horribly wrong is a matter to reckon with.

Apart from numerous cases being reported where men take their blushing brides primarily to the US only to serve them as glorified maids and subjecting them to both mental and physical abuse, thousands of cases have been reported wherein a man severed ties with his wife a few days after their wedding and left her behind in India without any information whatsoever.

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It is to address the concerns of these abandoned wives that the Ministry of Law and Justice is proposing sending out summons to these men via the website of Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) as opposed to the dated method of publishing notices in newspapers. And once a summon is uploaded on the website, it would be treated as served to the husband. The reason for serving these notices via a website or newspaper is primarily because the actual addresses of spouses abroad are unknown to the aggrieved party. Once the notices are served, only then can the court proceedings commence.

While there is no official data, various NGOs believe that in Punjab and Gujarat alone, around 25000 women have been abandoned by their spouses. And according to a report on the Times of India in February 2018, the Ministry of External Affairs received 3,328 distress calls from NRI women between 1 January 2015 and 30 November 2017 — an average of more than three calls a day or one every eight hours. And the primary causes of the distress were abandonment, harassment, dowry demands, physical abuse and passport seizure. The husbands often use lenient laws in the country they live in to get ex parte divorces and slither out of paying their wives maintenance.

In a bid to counter these shocking numbers, the above-mentioned proposal to issue notices via the website will be discussed at a meeting that will be attended by officials from Union Women and Child Development Ministry (WCD) and MEA next week. Other measure proposed by the WCD to the law ministry included impounding or cancellation of passport and attachment of their assets in India. Another recommendation is to make it mandatory to register NRI marriages within a week of the wedding.
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