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Marriages to NRI's makes lives of Indian women living hell
akanksha | 05 Feb 2011

Vayalar Ravi visited Australia and New Zealand in June 2010 said he was worried about the growing issue and planned to launch an awareness campaign in Punjab, the state where the maximum marriages take place.

MARRIAGE BETWEEN a citizen of  India and a person of Indian origin who are known as non resident Indians (NRIs), is a very complex  issue which is a cause of great concern for many. It not only causes the ill-treatment of any one of the partners, mostly women, but also leads to widespread debate. Even though, these kind of marriages are conducted all over India, states like Punjab, Haryana and Gujarat lead in the numbers.
 
There are around 30,000 to 35,000 fraudulent NRI marriages  every year out of which 15,000  out of the total take place in Punjab alone! Reasons being no strict laws for the same, and also people’s misconception and eagerness to marry their daughter’s off to an NRI without investigating about their background, authenticity, lifestyle.

New Zealand and Australia are the new and favourite destinations that compound for such a menace. IN New Zealand, the legal age for getting married is 16 years. One can then imagine the amount of physical, mental torture and  injustice being done to women there. Overseas Indian Affairs  Minister  Vayalar  Ravi, visited both the countries in June 2010 said he was worried about the growing issue and planned to launch an awareness campaign in Punjab, the state where the maximum marriages take place, to make people aware about the precautionary measures to be taken to avoid this heinous crime against women. The proposal of Ministry Of Overseas Affairs to appoint volunteers in countries with large NRI population to keep a check on them never came into force.

There are broadly 2 types of motives behind such frauds:

The first one being where the boy comes to India to find a girl for monetary gains.
 
This is the most common and heart-rending issue for the girl and her family. The groom lures  with his wealth and status and the ignorant families fall prey to this trap and shell out exorbitant amount of money for lavish weddings to make the girl's future in-laws happy. They also give away to the dowry demands of the groom. The reality is exposed only after marriage when the groom goes back to his home leaving behind the bride in the hope of sending spouse visa which obviously never comes. The helpless families are left with repayment of  huge loans and questions by the society. Not only Punjab, Haryana and Gujarat but also innocent people in Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu have been the victims.

The second one  where the India-based partner is desperate to migrate to any foreign country by marrying a person who already holds a working or student visa. This practice is especially common in Ludhiana and Jalandhar, two cities of Punjab. The immigration agents take full advantage of the same, playing with the Indian sensibilities.
 
Many matrimonial advertisements  were  reported in which people offered alliances with the holders of student visas in foreign countries with added bonus of bearance of all travel expenses of the partner. These 2 are serious problems of our country which needs to be looked upon with a tough approach.
Its been there since the colonial period but media intervention lately has prompted the government to take actions to deal with this issue.
 
The NCW(National Commission For Womwn) in August 2009 launched a special cell for complaints of women who are stranded by their foreign counterparts. It will be the coordination cell, said the chairperson of NCW, Girija Vyas. It will also form association with NGO’s, community organisations. Through this, they would also try and contact foreign missions to keep tab on the NRI marriages in their country. A non-governmental organisation has demanded steps to curb the misuse by self seeking brides of Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).  The parliamentary committee of empowerment of women has come up with certain recommendations.
 
The report presented in Lok Sabha stated equal  laws for religious committees. The child and women development ministry has recommended compulsory registration of marriages and that it should be the responsibility of the states to verify information about the NRI families before marriage.  The two-day workshop  by the NCW  prompted Sneha Singh, secretary of Ark foundation recommended certain laws out of which few were accepted. These are:

1. Dr.Girija Vyas recommended reviewing existing laws for the registration of NRI marriages.

2. Rules relating to sealing of passports of NRI husbands who cheat their wives should be reviewed as they are not strictly implemented.

3. B.S Roomawalia stressed on the abolishment of women cells as they are corrupt.

So, fraudulent NRI marriages is a growing concern and awareness for the same, stringent laws and proper investigation are the measures which can assure a better future by eradicating this unnoticed evil practice.