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India
12 Feb 2018

Of abused NRI wives and their struggle to break free

Neha Rastogi worked with Apple and lived in Silicon Valley. She had a good education, an illustrious career, a four-year-old daughter and an abusive husband.

It took her 10 years of suffering soul-crushing violence to finally call it quits.

Neha's isn't a standalone case. Despite being privileged, it usually takes NRI wives several years to walk away from an abusive marriage.

Why? Let's find out.

In context

Understanding domestic violence among Non-Resident Indian brides

High prevalence

Most victims from US, Canada, Gulf nations

Between January 1, 2015 and November 30, 2017, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) received at least three calls every day by distressed Non-Resident Indian (NRI) wives wanting to return. Note it: a total of 3,328 complaints in three years.

A majority of these women were natives of Punjab, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Gujarat and lived in the US, Canada or the Gulf countries.

Reasons

What takes them so long to call it quits?

Identifying yourself as a victim, deciding to fight and winning it is a long-drawn process.

To start with, abusers are charmers and convincing manipulators. Most victims either live in denial or cling to the hope that things would get better.

The ones who do want to break free are paralyzed by fear - of being shamed, ostracized, stigmatized, not believed and ending up alone.

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Contributing factors

Isolation, silence, emotional dependence enable violence

Geographical distance from close ones also plays a huge role in prolonging victimization.

Domestic abuse thrives in isolation, silence, and perpetrators know it. Abusive NRI men, therefore, commonly house-arrest their wives and impound their passports to restrict their movement and communication.

NRI wives depend on their spouses not just for money. They are their only family, friends and home in a faraway, unknown country.

Seeking help

If you are a victim or know someone who is

The MEA's online redressal forum MADAD provides financial and legal aid to NRI wives in trouble.

Moreover, victims can file a complaint at any Indian Mission and Post abroad or at the MEA's Branch Secretariats in Chennai, Guwahati, Hyderabad and Kolkata.

In India, Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005, and IPC Sections 498A, 304B and 306 make household abuse a punishable offense.

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