Politicians Seek Inquiry into Dowry Abuse Among Indian Community in Australia

The Australian state of Victoria is set to introduce a legislation banning dowry abuse with an aim to protect migrant brides.


Australian Federal Labor Member of Parliament Julian Hill has condemned the practice of dowry abuse among Hindu and Sikh communities in Australia, and asked for an urgent Senate inquiry to weed it out, ABC News reported.

Hill told the Australian parliament on May 30 that abuse related to the dowry practice is alarming. Saying that it is completely inappropriate in modern Australia, he urged the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee of Australia to initiate a focused investigation into dowry abuse in order to stop the family violence, murders and suicides that result from it.

Hill is also being supported in the cause by Tim Wilson, a Liberal MP from Victoria. Wilson called for a focused inquiry in the Senate or the House of Representatives. “The sooner that is done, the better,” he said, the report added. A slew of murders associated with domestic violence have taken place in Victoria in the past, that left the Indian community shocked, according to the publication.

“Dowry perpetuates a culture of ownership of women, which runs against the cause of equality. Women are not property; cultural or religious practices that suggest so are not welcome in Australia,” Hill was quoted as saying in the report.

Dowry extortion has been established as a direct cause of family violence and murders as well as suicides, Hill added. “Alarming growth in reports has been seen in certain communities,” he said referring to an investigation conducted by ABC News showing the consequences of dowry abuse on women.

The publication’s investigation, which is a part of an ongoing series started last year, revealed growing concerns regarding a substantial increase in family violence in Australian Hindu and Sikh communities in the past 10 years.

Also, there is a rising pressure on Parliament to act since the government of Victoria is set to introduce a legislation banning dowry abuse. The practice was made illegal in India in 1961. However, it has not yet been outlawed in Australia.

Victoria’s Attorney General Martin Pakula has confirmed that the state government would introduce a bill to outlaw dowry abuse and forced marriage in a few months.

The Victorian legislation, if passed, will be a significant one as it aims to protect migrant brides, while the dowry abuse laws in countries like India, Pakistan and Bangladesh are mainly meant for resident populations, Dr Manjula O’Connor, a Melbourne-based international anti-dowry campaigner, said, the report added.

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