Are you considering marriage of your daughter, sister or yourself to an Overseas Indian (OI) – either a Non Resident Indian (NRI) or a Person of Indian Origin (POI)?
Marriage to an OI may seem to be gateway to heaven. But it is not always so in many cases you may be stepping into a living hell.
So while you hope for the best, you need to prepare for the worst.
Please read to know more
A very high number of `OI marriages` are total disasters for the women. Some typical instances:
Woman marries an OI who abandons her even before she is taken to the foreign country of her husband`s residence. After a short honeymoon, he leaves, promising to send a ticket soon. Most likely, the woman is already pregnant when he leaves. So both she and the child are abandoned. He never calls or writes and never comes back.
Woman reaches the foreign country and arrives at the international airport there only to realize that her husband would not show up at all.
Woman goes to the foreign country but comes back within a year. Either she is sent back or forced to flee. She is not allowed to take her child(ren) along. In many cases, the child(ren) is/are forcibly abducted from her.
Woman goes to the foreign country only to be brutally battered,
assaulted and abused both mentally and physically, malnourished, confined and ill-treated in several other ways.
Woman learns later that the OI had given false information on any or all of the following: his job, immigration status, earning, property, marital status and other material particulars, to con her into the marriage.
Woman herself or her parents are held to ransom for payment of huge sums of money as dowry, both before and after the marriage.
Woman learns later that the OI she had married was already married in the other country to another woman, whom he continued to live with.
Woman`s husband obtains an ex-parte decree of divorce in the foreign country behind her back without her knowledge.
Woman is abandoned in the foreign country with absolutely no support or means of sustenance or escape and without even the visa to stay on in that country.
Woman goes to court for maintenance or divorce but repeatedly encounters legal obstacles related to jurisdiction of courts, service of notices or orders, or enforcement of orders.Woman is coaxed to travel to the foreign country of the man`s residence and gets married there. She later discovers that Indian courts have even more limited jurisdiction there.
What can you do to avoid getting into such situation?
Obviously, it helps to be as vigilant as possible. Before finalizing a proposal, make sure to check the following:
Never violate these Don`ts:
* Do not take any decision in haste and do not get pressurized to do so for any reason whatsoever
* Do not finalise matters over long distance, on phone or through e-mails
* Do not blindly trust any bureau, agent, tout or middleman
* Do not ever agree to forge papers or enter into any fake transactions for any reason or on any pretext
* Do not fall for any schemes to be able to migrate to another country, or promises for green card, through marriage
* Do not finalise matters in secrecy publishing the proposal
among the near and dear ones, friends and close relatives could help you in getting vital information which you may not be able to collect otherwise
* Do not agree to having only a registered marriage or to getting the marriage solemnized in a far off place
* Do not agree to the marriage taking place in the foreign country
Verification of Antecedents/Documents
Verify if the status of the man is actually as represented by him,
especially with regard to the following particulars:
* Marital status: if he is single, divorced, separated
* Employment details: qualification and post, salary, address of office, employer and their credentials
* Immigration status, type of visa, eligibility to take spouse to the other country
* Financial status
* Properties said to be owned by him, residence address
* Criminal antecedents, if any
* Family background
Check the following documents related to the man:
* Visa, passport
* Voter or alien registration card
* Social security number
* Tax returns for the last 3 years
* Bank account papers
* Property papers
Contact the following:
* Indian embassy in the foreign country (contact details at the end of the booklet)
* Employer of the person
* Local Indian associations and networks of Indian citizens
* Friends and relatives in that country
Do it Right
Insist on the following:
* Registration of the marriage along with social marriage
* Doing all the paperwork for issue of visa and other required formalities at your end and not at his
* keep all the original papers with yourself
* Affidavit from the man stating his present marital status
Have regular and meaningful communication with the man and his family over a period
Make sure that the two persons to be married meet personally and interact freely and frankly in comfortable atmosphere to make up their minds, as many times as they feel necessary.
Rely on the gut feeling and communicate amongst yourselves if any of you sense that anything is wrong or amiss. Always keep communication amongst yourselves easy and open.
Publicise the marriage and have a social marriage ceremony
Try to arrange for a bank account for the woman in the foreign country for her to be able to withdraw money in emergency
Equip the woman to take help in emergencies by providing her with contact details like phone numbers and e-mail IDs of police and other state authorities, help lines and legal aid bodies in the foreign country as well as of the Indian embassy there, especially of the Indian welfare officers, if appointed there. It would also help her to know the contact details of social support groups and networks
Equip the woman with knowledge of the laws of the foreign country and the rights she enjoys there, especially against any form of abuse or neglect, including domestic violence and if she can get residence permit and other protections as a victim of domestic violence or abuse
Equip the woman with professional/vocational qualifications and skills to be independent
Equip the woman with social skills to be able to develop contacts with neighbours and make friends on the foreign country
Insist on keeping in touch with the woman, even after the marriage on phone and e-mail and through local friends and relatives and get alert if at any point there is any reluctance or difficulty in this
Your legal rights
Every woman has the right to lead her married life with dignity and freedom, care and support by her spouse, without abuse, violence (emotional, mental or physical), neglect, fear or humiliation of any kind.
The following acts on the part of the husband constitute domestic violence and are illegal in most countries and against which the local police of every country can be approached for immediate protection and help:
* Physical abuse
* Mental, emotional abuse
* Verbal, social abuse
* Sexual abuse
* Economic abuse
Instances of physical abuse:
* Hair pulling, limb twisting, hitting, burning, Cutting, Stabbing
* Usage of weapons and firearms,
* Repeatedly forcing abortions and miscarriages caused by abuse
Instances of mental/ emotional abuse:
* Accusing the woman of loose morals
* Humiliating, both in public and private
* Breaking household goods, Killing family pets
* Threatening to hit or harm children & close relatives
Instances of sexual abuse:
* Forcing intercourse or other sexual acts without consent
* Physically assaulting sexual parts
* Treating partner like a sexual object
* Demanding forms of unnatural sex
* Threatening violence for non-compliance with sexual demands
Instances of verbal/ social abuse:
* Abusing, derogatory name calling
* Abusing her parents, friends & family
* Maligning in front of peers and friends
* Enforcing isolation, restricting familial contacts, controlling movement, generally treating badly
Instances of economic abuse:
* Controlling all family income, limiting access to finances
* Forcing financial dependency
* Providing insufficient funds for household expenditure
* Accusing of misuse or misappropriation of finances
SECTION 498A, Indian Penal Code:
* Cruelty defined: includes physical cruelty and mental cruelty.
* Who can lodge a complaint and where
Matrimonial Rights of Hindu Women
Right to seek divorce
GROUNDS FOR DIVORCE:
* Enters into sexual relationship with another woman
* Deserts the wife for more than two years
* Inflicts physical or mental cruelty on the wife
* Converts to another religion
* Has leprosy which cannot be treated
* Has become mentally unsound such that no treatment can help him
* Has venereal disease
* Has disappeared for more than seven years
* Has renounced the world and become a saint
* Has been convicted for committing the rape and bestiality
* Repudiation of child marriage
DIVORCE BY MUTUAL CONSENT:
* No grounds are required to be given if divorce by mutual consent
* The husband and wife should be staying separately for last one year before giving a joint application
* Both are agreed that they cannot stay with each other
* The judge will issue a notice after six month intervening period
* If the couple does not change their mind after six months and still seek divorce the same shall be granted to them
* One can ask the court for judicial separation on the same grounds which entitles him/her to divorce
* Divorce puts an end to marriage, while during judicial separation does not
* The husband and wife are merely staying apart and if ever they want to come together they can and they would be staying as husband and wife
* After divorce one has to remarry to stay as husband and wife
Right to seek restitution of conjugal rights
If the husband has deserted the wife without any valid reason and
does not fulfill the marital obligations, he can be ordered by the
court to join back his family.
Right to seek maintenance, alimony for self and children
Maintenance Rights of a Woman
* Section 24-25 Hindu Marriage Act 1955: Permanent alimony
* Section 125 Cr PC:
* Quick disposal of case
* No upper ceiling
* The mother and children will get separate maintenance
* For this separate application has to be put up before the court
Maintenance during the proceedings of the divorce case:
* What if the husband does not respect the court`s order
* How does the court decide the amount of maintenance to be granted
* What if the husband claims that he is bankrupt
* Would the wife have maintenance rights if she has remarried
Right of custody of children
CUSTODY OF CHILDREN AFTER DIVORCE:
* Till 5 years of age the child stays with his mother
* The court where the divorce proceedings are underway carries out the decision
* Keeping in mind the welfare of the child
* The child is consulted by the Magistrate
Dowry Prohibition Act – Offences of Dowry
Punishment: Six months to Five years of imprisonment or fine
Concept of Streedhan
* Any property or gift given to a woman before, at the time of marriage or later is her property
* May be gifted by anyone, even in-laws, friends
* She alone has the right to gift, will or dispose of her property as she desires
* No one else has a right on it
* Anyone who has a woman`s streedhan in her/his custody should return it to the actual owner within a stipulated time period
* If the trustee disposes of her property without her willing so the offender will be punished with imprisonment and fine
* If the woman dies without willing her property it goes to her sons/daughters and husband
A list should be made of the gifts given during or just after marriage. There has to be two lists: one for the man/another for the woman. The man`s list has to contain the gifts given to him by either party. The woman`s list has to contain the gifts given to her by either party. Spouses and witnesses should sign it. Both parties should retain a copy of the list.
Provisions of Law
SECTION 304 B- DOWRY DEATH
Three conditions for it to be called dowry death
* Death within seven years of marriage
* Unnatural death
* That the victim was being harassed for dowry immediately before her death
Who can complain if a dowry death has occurred?
Postmortem to be conducted
Punishment if evidence destroyed by the in-laws
Right to get orders by Indian courts enforced
Recognition of foreign matrimonial judgments:
Right to ask for injunction or interim orders against traveling
abroad or taking the children abroad
Ordinary Civil/Tort Suit – Order 39, Rule 1 for Injunctions
Right to claim damages through suit for damages
Right to claim property shares from husband and in-laws
Notable judgments of Indian courts (with principles laid down therein to be filled in):
* SC in Y. Narasimha Rao & Ors. V. Y. Venkata Lakshmi & Anr.
* Anubha vs.Shri Vikas Aggarwal and Ors.:
* Neeraja Saraph vs. Jayant V. Saraph and Anr.
* Indira Sonti vs. Suryanarayana Murty Sonti and Anr.Other Support
* Welfare Officers of Indian embassies for assistance in emergency
* Local NGOs, women`s associations and help groups
* Local Police or other help lines (Particulars to be given)