NGO to Protest Against Exploitation of Migrant Indian Wives in UK

Women with dependent visas have to wait 5 years to get residency permit


Britain’s largest Indian women’s group, the 21,000-strong Indian Ladies in UK CIC, is set to stage a silent protest outside the Home Office headquarters in London against the exploitation of women on spousal dependent visas. The demonstration is scheduled to be held on August 16.

The non-profit organisation, which comprises first generation migrant Indian women in UK, campaigns against domestic abuse, spousal abandonment and international child abduction.

Thousands of women shift to Britain every year on dependent visas — following their husbands’ move. Many of these women are often abused or exploited as the immigration law enables the sponsoring partner — the husband, in this case — to cancel the partner’s visa with a simple email to Home Office.

These women have no recourse to public funds, and often remain dependent for five years before they can apply for permanent settlement. If she has a child, the minor is considered a British citizen. The voluntary organisations find that women who are on the receiving end of the abuse of power by their husbands, are exploited, abused or even dumped in India after travelling to the UK.

The reasons are many: Dowry issues where wife’s family is unable to meet the husband’s demands, money issues where women’s salary is taken away by her husband, “cultural reasons” where women who want to work or dress differently are targeted by their husbands. Sometimes they are taken to India on the pretext of a holiday and left there. Many of these women are highly educated and remain in these relationships because of the social stigma and family pressure.

In a recent incident, the husband – a British citizen of Indian origin –  took his family to India for a holiday. Under the pretext of taking the children to a temple, the man took his Gujarati wife’s passport, visa and phone and left India with their children. India Ladies in UK CIC helped arrange a passport for her and she is fighting a case now.

Another case that highlights the fragility of women’s position in the UK pertains to a husband who stole the British Residency Permit of his wife on their trip to India. The moment he returned to London, he told the Home Office that he is no longer married to her, and therefore her residency permit needs to be cancelled. Based on his word alone, the Home Office is said  too have cancelled her visa, which barred her from seeking justice in Britain.

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