Marriage failures and the resultant hardships are not confined to women and the rising number of male victims could tilt the balance, according to sources in New Zealand and New Delhi.
Indian Overseas Affairs Minister Vayalar Ravi took with him a number of complaints from disgruntled husbands and wives, saying, “there appears to be victimisation on both sides.”
VVS Mani, a software engineer told the visiting minister of the harassment that he has been experiencing since his marriage to a Fiji Indian two years ago.
“I am a New Zealand citizen and it is now apparent that this woman married me only to regularise her legal status here. Soon after she obtained her Permanent Residence, she began to act tough, asking me for money and ‘freedom to do whatever she wanted.’ She often threatens to complain to the Police of violence and ‘put me away forever.’ I read in Indian Newslink about women being victims of failed marriages. There are many men like me on the same boat,” he told Mr Ravi.
Vipin Arora (not his real name) a professional accountant based in Auckland narrated his experience, claiming that he is ‘regularly beaten up by his wife and her parents.’
“I am constantly being insulted, abused and sometimes even threatened of being killed. My parents-in-law also join her in this tirade. We have two young children because of who I tolerate this nonsense. But I seek justice,” he said.
Mr Arora however said his parents had committed “the serious blunder” of accepting cash and “some assets” as dowry, which is punishable under the Indian Penal Code.
“I have to therefore suffer. I have filed for divorce and hopefully obtain justice from the New Zealand system,” he said.
Mr Ravi said such complaints needed verification and redress.
“We do not condone anyone accepting or giving dowry. India has come a long way from such evil practices. We do understand that in many cases, brides and grooms are either silent spectators or do not even know of such deals. I will consult my officials and try to solve the rising problem in New Zealand,” he said.
The Minister said the objective of any marriage was to have a happy and contended life, raise children and be useful members of the community and the society.
“I want every Indian to make the country of their choice proud but such incidents do not help. We need to take quick action,” he said.
He said the current system provided for financial assistance (up to $2000) to seek legal help only to female victims.
“We now need to look at the broader picture and see if husbands and parents should also be included. They are also apparently victims,” he said.
A recent survey in India said the divorce rate was rising to alarming proportions, with the State of Kerala recording “an outrageous 350%, followed by Delhi and Mumbai (200%) and other smaller cities.
The Survey also accounted for male victims.
“A 65-year-old man convicted on charges relating to dowry, committed suicide in the prison, leaving a note saying that he was a victim of family violence. No sane person would think a man of that age would have fought for dowry from his wife,” it said.
In another matrimonial case, Supreme Court Judge Deepak Verma said, “Married men should forget about their freedom.”
In another case, Justice Markandey Katju said, “Do what the wife tells you and never question her authority.”
According to a media report, Delhi High Court Justice S N Dhingra recently ordered a man to buy a house worth Rs 1.8 million (about $NZ 55,000) for his wife in 30 days, failing which the Court would cancel his bail.
“Those who are aware of the pattern of complaints coming in various NGOs across the nation related to the misuse of these women centric laws would consider the chances of criminal intimidation, blackmailing and extortion attempts, which could have forced this man to sign such an agreement,” the report said.
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Photo : “This injustice must end.” Vayalar Ravi in Auckland