Zil-Hijjah / Muharram 1423 H
Volume 16-03 No : 195
Camps \ Workshops
The menace of NRI grooms deserting their legally wedded wives is rampant.
By M. H. Lakdawala
Shahida Naik is waiting desperately for her husband to return home as it well passes midnight. At around 2 .30 am, she received a phone call and expected the worst. But hearing the voice of Aamir, her husband, she feels relieved. The very next moment, her world comes crashing as Aamir declares that he is about to board the flight to Riyadh.
This was in 1998.Shahida is still to hear from Aamir. She was married at the age of 19, a year earlier. When Aamir deserted her, she was pregnant. Today she lives with her parents along with her five year old daughter Shaista who has not even seen her father.
Abdul Malik, father of Shahida wants to initiate the divorce for her. But the adamant attitude of her in-laws and the burden of legal formalities are proving to be obstacles. “My daughter is totally broke today. As a father I want to help her. But I find myself helpless. What have we done to deserve this”? he asks.
Zarina Khan brought up her four children, two daughters, and two sons, against all odds after her husband had passed away. Her life in Mumbai with a tiny house at her disposal was extremely tough and challenging. Besides bringing up her children, she had to work just to survive. In this backdrop, when a match for her daughter, Aisha, came from a family, whose son was working in Bahrain, Zarina thought that the back-breaking struggle in life was about to wind up. Aisha was married to Tahir Baig, in 1994. After some time, Tahir left for Bahrain leaving his wife with his family. Life became tougher for her with each passing day in her pregnant condition. According to her, everyday confrontation with her mother-in-law eventually forced her to live with her own mother. Here, she continued to receive letters from her husband. But when she gave birth to a daughter, nobody came from her in-laws’ house. Her husband, however, sent her 200 dollars.
That was the last of her happiness. The next six years were spent in agony by Aisha and her mother. Both had no clue what was happening either in Bahrain or in her in-laws’ house. “We came to know very late that my husband married again and was living with his second wife in Bahrain,” reveals Aisha.
Her mother, who was already finding it hard to make two ends meet, had to start yet another struggle in her life. She approached the elders of the family. All she got was empty reassurance and a never-ending wait for justice.
According to Advocate Rehana Shaikh, she has six cases where NRIs have deserted their legally wedded wives. “Most of these girls are left with the parents of the boys so as to serve them. They are treated as slaves without any rights. When I heard their stories, I doubt whether we live in a civilised world?” says Rehana.
Huma Mansuri was married to a NRI from Dubai, but was never taken abroad by her husband. The in-laws had literally imprisoned her in their house till she succeeded in fleeing after three years and two months of their marriage. She is fighting her case in court for the past seven years. The case of Maryam Faqih, daughter of Ajmal Faqih only reiterates the issue. She was married to Tahir Ladhi in 1997. Her husband left her with his parents and returned to the UK. For the next two years, he never returned. Meanwhile, Maryam continued to serve her in-laws oblivious of the doings of her husband in the UK. It was as late as 2001 that she and her family learnt that he had married again in the UK. The victims, Maryam and her family, have now registered an FIR against the boy and his family.
The case of Nazneen, daughter of Rehan Ansari, a taxi driver, speaks volumes about the menace of deserted wives. Nazneen was married to Yasin Ansari, in 1994. The NRI groom, for a change, had escorted his wife to Qatar, one year after the marriage. She stayed with him for the next two years, but he brought her back in 1997 by misleading her. He took away all her travel documents and passport on the sly and returned to Qatar without informing her. The girl and her family had no option, but to register cases against him and his family.
The menace of NRI grooms deserting their legally wedded wives is rampant. In fact an overwhelming number of such grooms are Muslims working in the Gulf. Advocate Rehana Shaikh asserts, “as there are no laws that can effectively nail such grooms, it would be best for the state to hold the families of the grooms accountable for indulging in illegal weddings of their boys. In fact, no NRI groom can come and marry another girl without the connivance of his parents and relatives. Everybody who attends such a wedding should be brought to book to exercise pressure on the NRI grooms. Unless there is a social boycott of such weddings, the unsuspecting hapless girls will continue to be cheated”. Asif Khan, a social activist, reveals that while it is within the purview of the state governments to set up fast-track courts with the permission of the judiciary, it cannot play any role to get the victims their share in the property of their husbands, who may have deserted them. “ The menace of deserting wives by NRI grooms not only has international legal loopholes, but also socio-economic angles to it,” he said.
It is a well-known fact by now that there is no fully effective legal relief available in such cases. However, this problem has deep roots in our social structure as well as the economics of life. If there are poor people, who get allured to marry their daughters imagining a blissful life for their daughters, then there are also parents, who are driven by the greed of marrying their daughters to NRI grooms. Their greed envisages greener pastures for the entire family in the form of immigration. Many parents have married their daughters to NRI grooms, who were double their age and even more. “We desperately need amendments to the present laws and even formation of new laws to tackle this menace. For the time being, the government should exercise the right to cancel the passports of such NRI grooms, to deliver some iota of justice to the deserted girls”, comments Advocate Rehana.
The writer can be reached at
Co-organised by Shodhan Weekly and Media Analysis Research and Scan, Mumbai.
To debate and discuss the role of media in the present scenario and networking the like-minded journalists countrywide
on 15th, 16th March 2003
At Assembly Hall, Azam Campus 2390, K.B. Hidayatullah Road, Camp, Pune - 1
Syed Iftekhar Ahmed, Moazzam Naik, Dr. Abdul Karim Naik
Contact : Mumbai : 022-23713466, 23082820. Pune 020-26832327
Luminaries from across India from journalism will be speaking on topics like Community Media, Attitude and Scope, Creating Space in National Media, Media and Entertainment and Internet Media.
An interesting Debate on Current Trends in Journalism will be anchored by popular journalist M. Hanif Lakdawala.
All India Wakf Conference
The Karnataka Board of Wakfs will be holding an all India Wakfs Conference on March 22 - 23 in Bangalore. The Conference will be looking at required Amendements in the Central Wakf Act and questions like exempting wakf properties from Rent Control Act and will be discussing measure to utilise the Wakf income for the development of the Muslim Community. All State Wakf Ministers, CEOs and Mutawallis (Custodians) of important Wakf properties will be attending the two-day conference.