The Committee Secretary
Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee
Subject: The practice of dowry and the incidence of dowry abuse in Australia
Submission: Australia is set to pass legislation against dowry abuse in Australia
Dowry system was in Practice in Indian subcontinent and among Indian Origin community abroad, and it’s prohibited in India in 1961.
There is Law in India and its called Dowry Prohibition Act covered under Penal code Section 498A.
This law in India is widely misused by Bride side, because it’s biased towards Male/Husband Family,most of the cases registered with one word women Bride side without any verification or investigation.
Indian National Crime Records Bureau reported acquittal rate in IPC 498A is more than 80%
Please find cumulative statistics for Dowry and Domestic Violence here https://mynation.net/voice/ncrb/ same can be found on NCRB website of Government of India.
Same trend is continued in Indian community Abroad too (Australia/Canada/UK/USA)
At the time of Marriage Girl side is not supporting man to start new family, buy house, or pay all the bills, its Indian Mentality that girl Family expect man has to pay for everything, No girl is ready to marry Boy from poor family.
They always look for well to do grooms only, they look for Rich NRI men, They use Rich NRI men to migrate, it is not true that Men family harass them, most of the time Girl Family want to reap where they don’t sow. coz they know if their marriage is end up in Divorce, they hit the jackpot, if husband is Rich. [ Ref : https://mynation.net/study-report-498a.htm ]
There is no such thing as dowry demand / Harassment or related violence, most of the time these laws are used get out of marriage by using law and make money.
If any such laws are made then, that should be gender neutral and those who misuse these laws, should be deported back to India or their PR / Citizenship cancelled.
Rudolph Joseph Dsouza
Founder / President of MyNation Hope Foundation
UPDATE: As on 14/02/2019
The Senate inquiry into the prevalence of dowry abuse in Australia has published its recommendations, identifying dowry extortion as a direct cause of “family violence, murders and suicides in Australia” but rules out any specific law for criminalizing dowry.
A long-awaited Senate inquiry into the nature and prevalence of dowry and dowry abuse in Australia has published its report after months of submissions and evidence by individuals and organisations.
Senator Louise Pratt, chair of the Inquiry Committee, told SBS Punjabi the issue of dowry in Australia was far more significant than she was expecting.
“I saw that really from a wide range of participation of women and community organisations who have been supporting and interacting with both men and women who have been affected by these issues … I can say that this is certainly big enough for us to take it seriously as an issue that needs legal and policy reform in Australia. It is now time for a national discussion about this kind of violence and abuse.”
‘Economic abuse’ a form of family violence
One of the inquiry’s key findings is the recommendation that the term ‘economic abuse’ is included as a form of family violence under the existing Family Law Act 1975, acknowledging that the practice is “undesirable in modern Australia.” The report suggests federal government work with states and territories to harmonise existing legislation.
The committee considered it is necessary to identify and document dowry abuse in the Australian context as well as the connection between dowry abuse, other forms of family violence and those more extreme forms of exploitation.
At present, there is no reference to dowry abuse in the Family Law Act and Victoria is the only state that specifically includes dowry abuse in legislation as an example of family violence.
However, the committee ruled out any specific law for criminalizing dowry, saying there are far more effective ways of preventing the abuse.
Criminalisation of dowry abuse ruled out
“Criminalisation may have the unintended result of driving this pernicious cultural practice underground, further isolating CALD (culturally and linguistically diverse) women and causing greater harm,” the report stated.
“The committee is also mindful that the criminalisation of dowry in India does not appear to have been particularly effective in preventing dowry abuse, and that the Indian law has been the subject of misuse and extensive criticism.”
The committee acknowledged the overwhelming evidence that women are the major victims of dowry abuse.
“In doing so, the committee considers that there is no benefit for society in creating a system that fosters false and vexatious complaints – often against men – when marriages break down as appears to be the case under the current Indian law.
Protection for women on temporary visas:
In a significant step towards protecting the rights of women on temporary visas, the committee has recommended the creation of a temporary visa – for example a ‘Woman at Risk in Australia’ visa – to be available for non-family temporary visa holders who have suffered serious and proven family violence including dowry abuse. This would include female international students or women on sponsored visitor visas.
“A new class of temporary visa for a limited period (say 1 or 2 years), would allow a victim to make necessary arrangements for their own and their family’s protection and security, as well as arrangements to return to their home country or to apply for any further visa for which they were eligible.”
Women are the major victims of dowry abuse
While the committee acknowledged overwhelming evidence that women are the major victims of dowry abuse, it also received evidence that “numerous men within the Indian community have … been falsely accused of dowry abuse by their former wives, or are themselves victims of ‘reverse dowry’ abuse.”
The committee acknowledged that “there is no benefit for society in creating a system that fosters false and vexatious complaints – often against men – when marriages break down, as appears to be the case under the current Indian law.”
Emphasis on data collection and awareness of dowry abuse:
In addition to the proposed legislative changes, the committee has recommended that the Australian government must work with the states and territories to improve data collection practices to measure the extent and incidence of all forms of family violence, including dowry abuse as a form of economic abuse in Australia.
– It has further recommended that the government must engage with all organisations and frontline workers to develop ongoing education and raise awareness on the subject.
– The committee has reiterated the need for service providers to understand “culturally-specific forms of domestic and family violence” to ensure adequate protection is provided to all victims.
– As part of the initiative to raise awareness, the committee has proposed that a ‘Family Safety Pack’ is provided individually to all visa applicants in their first language, such as during the health examination required as a condition of their visa application.
Senator Louise Pratt says it’s very clear that the Indian law preventing dowry hasn’t worked.
“Dowry abuse is still practised in India and in addition we certainly also have examples of men falsely accused of dowry abuse put before the committee including examples of Australian men who were Australian citizens, but what we need is a very clear sense of where and whom to harm is occurring in terms of that abuse and a good law should be able to do that.
“There were very very sad examples on both sides and in that sense we need to make sure that dowry abuse does not happen in either direction.”