The charm of an NRI groom has shattered many an Indian woman's dream of a happy conjugal life. This phenomenon of wives abandoned by their NRI husbands has been growing invisibly for over a decade.
According to an estimate - 2 out of 10 NRI marriages reportedly end with the wife being abandoned. India has no laws that protect wives whose NRI husbands get ex-parte divorces and custody of children. On an average, the WCD ministry gets around 50 complaints, a month from females stuck in abusive marriages with NRIs or those abandoned by their husbands settled abroad.
According to the Women and Child Development (WCD) Minister, Mrs. Maneka, “We get a large number of complaints from women who are stuck in abusive marriages with NRI husbands. We had taken up some cases with the Indian Missions abroad, but in vain. I requested the MEA that there is a need for Indian missions to be more proactive in this matter”.
The WCD Minister has also written to the External Affairs Ministry seeking modifications in the rules for issuance of passports so that it is not mandatory to mention the name of the father if the mother and child so desire, citing the increase in the number of single mothers in the country. The Delhi HC had stated that it is not essential to mention the father’s name if the mother and child don’t want to.
In January 2010, the Indian government had announced that it would issue two simultaneously valid passports to married women who leave the country to live with their husbands in foreign lands. The second passport would include information about a woman’s NRI spouse, serve as her proof of marriage and be deposited with the Indian embassy or consulate in the country where she is being taken to reside. The move was aimed at protecting women whose husbands abandon them after taking them abroad. Unfortunately, not much has been achieved till date.