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Last Updated: Friday, 31 March 2006, 14:36 GMT 15:36 UK
Call for tough laws on dowry fraud
Indian girl
Many Indian children are left not knowing their father
Lawyers in India have called for tougher laws to tackle the problem of non-resident Indians (NRIs) marrying women in the country and then abandoning them when the traditional dowry is paid to him.

Many thousands of young women and their families have become victims of dowry fraud, with estimates that up to 15,000 women have been conned in the state of Punjab alone.

The fraudsters come from countries such as the UK, Canada and the US, and travel to India or Pakistan, where they get married, and then disappear once they've received the dowry traditionally provided by the bride's family.

They often leave the bride and her family not only financially out of pocket, but also emotionally scarred.

"There should be some justice," Daljit Kaur, a Punjab-based lawyer told the BBC World Service's Outlook programme.

"There should be extradition treaties, and there should be a strong law so that people can get justice."

'He ruined my life'

Ms Kaur says there is no direct legal action that can be taken for the women duped in this way.

"Some of the NRIs feel this is the easiest way to get money," she said.

"They are coming every year from different countries, coming to Punjab and getting married here, and are getting the dowry in cash or jewellery, or other valuable things.

The men have a very nice life over there in England - why are they coming here to spoil Indian girls?
Poorva, defrauded Indian woman

"Then they fly back, without giving the right number or address, and we are unable to trace them.

"In some cases we don't know which country they are in right now. They are ruining girls financially, socially, and emotionally."

She added that the fraudsters are "spoiling three generations - the girl, her parents, and the children out of wedlock."

"The girl is ruined in all dimensions. Financially, she has been spoiled; socially, she can't get remarried; and emotionally, she is ruined.

"I have many cases in which the boy or girl is five, seven, 10 years old, and they have never seen their father."

Poorva, one of the women involved in such a case, said that the man she married had promised to take her to the UK where she could complete her studies.

"Every girl has a dream like this - that I could go and my husband would love me, give me each thing and every happiness - but he was not like that," she said.

"He totally spoilt my life."

Hope

She advised Indian girls who plan on marrying an NRI to "know everything about his life - what he's doing, what he's going to do."

Indian protest against dowries
Dowries have been the subject of much debate in India

"The men have a very nice life over there in England - why are they coming here to spoil Indian girls?" she added.

"This is very bad."

Meanwhile Usha Sudh, a lawyer in Nottingham in central England, said the governments of both the UK and India could "do more".

She explained that in many cases, the NRIs advertise themselves as eligible bachelors in Indian newspapers and magazines to generate interest from Indian women.

She therefore called for advertisement controls within the Indian press.

"Those men would have to register, and there could be a traceable way of getting to those men," she explained.

She added that there was some hope for the defrauded women, in that they may be entitled to funding from the country of origin of the NRI.

"I think Indian lawyers are ignorant of this process," she said.

"You can actually get [these women] public funding from this country, to at least litigate against these men."


SEE ALSO:
Doctor queries Indian abortions
08 Mar 06 |  Health
India 'loses 10m female births'
09 Jan 06 |  South Asia
Dowry woman becomes textbook star
29 Sep 04 |  South Asia
Indians rally against dowries
28 Nov 03 |  South Asia
Three 'weddings' and no dowry
19 Nov 03 |  South Asia
Delhi dowry rows persist
21 May 03 |  South Asia



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