Government to set up portal to help women abandoned by NRI husbands

At present, different ministries such as external affairs (MEA), home and women and child development (WCD) handle different aspects of such cases.

india Updated: Jun 15, 2017 12:07 IST
Moushumi Das Gupta & Jayanth Jacob
Moushumi Das Gupta & Jayanth Jacob
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Savita Dharna with her father Jai Gopal from Jalandhar during the National Seminar on NRI marriage in Chandigarh on April 20, 2017.(Anil Dayal/HT FILE PHOTO)

The government is planning to set up a single-window portal for Indian women facing abandonment or divorce or other problems from their NRI husbands.

At present, different ministries such as external affairs (MEA), home and women and child development (WCD) handle different aspects of such cases.

“The plan is to coordinate efforts in a centralised manner,” said an MEA official after the decision was taken by an inter-ministerial panel at a meeting last week.

The new site will have advice on how to proceed with a case, including approaching the Indian mission, seeking help of empanelled lawyers and NGOs, etc. It will also have precautions to be taken before marrying an NRI.

Currently, measures include legal and financial — USD 3,000 in developed countries and USD 2,000 in developing ones — assistance for women who face abandonment or divorce proceedings within 15 years.

But what has been lacking is a single point for redressal.

Following mounting complaints, the government had set up the inter-ministerial committee last July to look at measures to help such women. The panel is now revising the standard operating procedures for dealing with all such cases.

According to the WCD ministry’s annual report, during 2014 (the latest period for which data is available), the National Commission for Women, an autonomous body under the ministry and which runs a NRI Cell, registered 346 complaints from women married to NRI men.

However, these figures do not reflect the true picture as not many women come forward to lodge complaint, WCD ministry officials said.

Complaints are mostly about men keeping custody of their wives’ passport and not allowing them to travel, disappearing after leaving their wives behind in India, abandoning wives in foreign countries, forcibly keeping the child abroad and not letting the wife to contact the child, etc.

In 2007, the then Overseas Indian Affairs ministry came up with a handbook on NRI marriages. One of the reasons that had triggered this was the rising number of abandoned spouses of NRI women — over 13,000 in Gujarat and more than 25,000 in Punjab.

In 2009, the then NCW chairperson Girija Vyas had commented that “out of 10 NRI marriages, two resulted in the wife being abandoned after honeymoon”.

First Published: Jun 15, 2017 12:05 IST