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Help for women deserted abroad

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Help for women deserted abroad

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 29

In a much-needed move, the Centre has prepared a scheme to provide counselling and legal services to Indian women deserted by their husbands in foreign countries.

The Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs has finalised the scheme wherein counselling and legal aid would be provided to the distressed women by a panel of community advocates through credible Indian associations and women's organisations empanelled with the country's Missions, sources said. To begin with, the service would be provided in the US, the UK, Canada, Australia and the Gulf, where majority of the Indian expatriate community lived, they said.

Under the scheme, finalised at a high-level meeting in the ministry recently, organisations and NGOs would enlist Indian community advocates to do voluntary work and provide legal assistance and counselling services.

The scheme would cover women deserted in India or overseas within one year of the marriage or in the case of divorce proceedings initiated by the spouse within one year of the marriage. Legal aid would also be provided if there was an ex-parte decree of divorce or annulment of the marriage was obtained by the spouse and a case of maintenance or alimony was required to be filed.

A sum of upto $ 1,000 would be paid to the NGO or organisation concerned to undertake the initial work or documentation required for the legal proceedings on the woman's behalf.

The scheme would be circulated among the Indian community associations by the Missions concerned for information and publicity and sent to the women's groups and NGOs inviting them to apply for empanelment under the scheme. The applications received from women seeking assistance would be examined by a committee in the Ministry.

Based on this scrutiny and approval of the Ministry, the cases would be recommended to the Missions for giving assistance to the women in distress.

The government's decision to put in place the assistance mechanism comes in the wake of an increasing number of complaints by Indian women, who go in for NRI marriages, of being abandoned by their husbands.

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