Faced with increasing cases of abandonment and divorce of women married to overseas Indians, the National Commission for Women (NCW) on Thursday launched an NRI cell to deal with such complaints.
The NRI cell will provide legal counselling to women deserted by their overseas husbands. It will also advise and give recommendations to the government on policies related to NRI marriages. Besides, the cell will also carry out awareness campaigns on the subject.
As per figures tabled by Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs in parliament, 55 complaints were registered against NRIs for abandoning their wives in 2008. This year the number has already reached 42.
NCW chairperson Girija Vyas said the parents had to take special care to make proper inquiries before marriage, instead of just rushing their daughter to marriage.
She said that government had to also take up the issue bilaterally or multilaterally with other countries, so that foreign courts do not issue any decree of divorce unilaterally without the presence of the wife.
“Maybe there could also be norms that before the girl leaves with man after marriage, it is mentioned in the passport so that the husband cannot says that he had never married her once they leave India,” she said.
She also urged state governments to implement the compulsory registration of marriages.
The NCW opened the cell after it was nominated as the coordinating agency for dealings with issues related to NRI marriages in April this year.
The NCW has already started the first overseas office at Indian embassy in Britain to act as helpline for abandoned wives and put them in touch with local voluntary agencies.
“We urged that most embassies should keep some space for setting up a branch there. Maybe, that one person could give a phone call on a monthly basis to the women who arrive in the country after marriage to check if they are well,” Vyas said.
Film actress and director Pooja Bhatt, who was present at the event, said: “In this country, we only teach women about their duties. It is time that parents tell their daughters about their rights too.”