An Indian women’s collective in Britain is demanding a change in the norms for dependent visa. This type of visa is required when Indian women accompany their husbands to the UK after getting married. The women protested outside UK Home Office’s Visas and Immigration headquarters to demand a change in legal requirements.

Under dependent visa, the spouse of an Indian woman has the right to cancel the visa single-handedly in case of divorce. This leaves the women without any rights in the UK.

“We have women here today who have come from far and wide in the UK and who hail from far and wide in India. It’s a testament to the fact that this is a problem that is widespread,” said Poonam Joshi, founder of Indian Ladies in the UK (ILUK), at the protest on Thursday (August 17), reported Financial Express.

“The darkest period of my life began when my husband abandoned me. It has left permanent mental and emotional scars. But I was one of the luckier ones as I was able to rebuild my life,” said Mohammad

“It is appalling that migrants bring their home-grown prejudices about the treatment of women and outdated ideas about caste, dowry etc with them to the UK. Britain’s immigration system is generous to millions. But individuals who have no sense of right and wrong also exploit it quite easily while treating women,” she said.

Thousands of women travel to the UK on dependent visa. A large number of husbands allegedly exploit and abuse their partners by cancelling their dependent visa. This leaves these women without any legal rights in the foreign country.

They don’t get relief from the UK Public fund either. This further pushes them into a life of drudgery and mental health problems. Even their families and the society isolate them, said ILUK.

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A victim, Shafiqua Mohammad, came all the way from Petersborough to join the protest in London. “The darkest period of my life began when my husband abandoned me. It has left permanent mental and emotional scars. But I was one of the luckier ones as I was able to rebuild my life,” said Mohammad.

ILUK proposes that a provision should come into existence saving the rights of Indian women. It claims that in the current scenario, men have many opportunities to “use, abuse and discard women at will”.

A UK Home Office spokesperson said, “This government will not tolerate abuse through marriage or other relationships.”

“We have taken a lead in tackling modern slavery, forced marriage and domestic violence and will continue to do so. We will look carefully at any evidence of where further action might help to prevent abuse or support victims,” the spokesperson said.

Picture credit- Asian Lite

More Stories by Poorvi Gupta

 

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