Special Correspondent

This is to address the plight of abandoned women by their overseas husbands on the pretext of non-availability of visa

NEW DELHI: The Government is in talks with the United Kingdom and the United States to work out a legal arrangement within the existing treaties with the two nations that would make Indian laws applicable to citizens of Indian origin settled there.

Announcing this here at the Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas celebrations, Minister of State for Women and Child Development (independent charge) Renuka Chowdhury said this would bring relief to thousands of young women who were abandoned by their non-resident Indian (NRI) spouses and who failed to secure justice.

Ms. Chowdhury said there were a number of young girls in Punjab, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala who were abandoned by their overseas spouses after a brief "honeymoon," on the pretext of non-availability of passports or visa. The women have no access to justice because the marriages were held in India and Indian laws do not apply in other countries. "Some progress has been made in the talks with the U.S. and the U.K. and if successful, it will ensure that Indian laws are applicable to the people of Indian origin in other countries also," she said.

Website

The Minister also suggested setting up of a website in various parts of the country where women in distress, or abandoned, could approach for help. "We cannot have one arrangement because of cultural variations in the country," she said.

The issue of NRI marriages was also raised by CPI (M) Rajya Sabha member Brinda Karat who expressed concern over the fate of a large number of distressed women outside the country. "This is the non responsible behaviour of certain Indian men that puts women in trouble," she said.

Expressing concern over the condition of overseas workers in the informal sector, Ms. Karat said a large number of these were employed as domestic helps in the Gulf countries where they not only faced sexual abuse but also violation of labour laws.

Ms. Karat appealed to the NRI community to set up non-governmental organisations to help these women in distress.

"This would also need Government's intervention and sensitisation of the mission staff abroad. On our part, we are trying to set up linkages right up to the village level to educate and connect people," she said.

Describing increasing female foeticide as a crisis situation, Ms. Chowdhury said gender disparity would adversely impact the women of the country and this needed to be corrected either through legislation or reservation.

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