Every eight hours, a married Indian woman living overseas gives a distress call back home asking for help, new data on the complaints received by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) reveals.
According to a Times of India report, in the 1,064 day period between 1 January 2015 and 30 November 2017, the MEA received 3,328 complaints from NRI women. This means that on an average, there are a little over three such calls everyday.
The Times of India report, citing lawyers and activists, says that most of the complainants hail from the states of Punjab, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Gujarat.
Moreover, these distress calls come primarily from the US, Canada, as well as the Middle Eastern countries.
Among the primary reasons for these distress calls from these NRI women are desertion by the husband, harassment, physical abuse, and dowry. In some cases, the husbands even end up seizing important documents of their spouses, such as the passport, in order to prevent them from going back.
To address these concerns, the Ministry of External Affairs has set up a grievance portal in place called MADAD. Financial and legal help is also provided by the Indian missions in the respective countries when they receive such complaints from women.
Aarthi Rao, who had been associated with the Indian Embassy in the US for 16 years and has handled such cases of distress, tells The Times of India:
Most women were from Andhra Pradesh (including Telangana), where the dowry system is still strong. The boys went to India to please their parents and married someone, but had no intentions of living with them once they returned.Aarthi Rao
Data source: Ministry of External Affairs