Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Wives of British Sasians Dumped

LONDON: Dozens of South Asian women have claimed their husbands have tried to get rid of them by duping them into travelling from Britain to the subcontinent and then abandoning them.

Lawyers and charities have taken up cases in which Pakistani, Indian and Bangladeshi women claim to have been tricked into giving up their passports and tickets, making it harder for them to re-enter Britain and rejoin their British-born children.

Experts say unscrupulous British South Asian men are using the ploy to avoid costly divorces and deny their wives the rights they have in Britain.

Anne-Marie Hutchinson, a lawyer at a London family law firm, said she had encountered 20 cases in the past 18 months involving wives born on the subcontinent and married to British South Asians, in which the wives had turned to British courts to try to gain custody of their children.

Ms Hutchinson said the racket was comparable to cases in which husbands fled abroad, taking the children with them.

``You could say it's abduction by a different means -- you take her away rather than the kids. It's a breach of human rights, forcibly separating a mother from her children.''

In May, a 22-year-old Indian-born wife of a British-born South Asian man told the High Court her husband's parents had lured her to India and abandoned her without a passport to cut her off from her baby daughter, who remained in Britain with her husband.

The man's parents had told the wife, who cannot be named for legal reasons, that her father was ill, but when she reached India she found him well and surprised by her visit.

The parents-in-law, after dropping the wife off with her relatives, flew back to Britain without telling her, leaving her without her passport, which they had always kept in their possession. The husband's family then claimed the wife had deserted her husband and child.

At a hearing on the case, the judge said: ``I am satisfied ... the father's family conspired and contrived to remove the mother from their family to India and to abandon her there and to keep her baby daughter for themselves. They have presented a thoroughly dishonest case to this court.''

Meena Patel, a worker at the charity Southall Black Sisters in west London, said cases were now coming to light because increased use of emails in Pakistan had made it easier for abandoned wives to make contact with charities and lawyers.

In many cases the wives are able to return to Britain, but often after long delays.

A spokesman for the Foreign Office said cases of spouse abandonment in South Asia appeared to be on the rise, with 45 cases in the past year, in one of which a man was duped.

Source: Australian, The, AUG 22, 2006


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