Marital problems in the Indian Diaspora living in West Asia

November 22, 2012 by  
Filed under newsletter-asia

Marital problems in the Indian Diaspora living in West AsiaSaudi Arabia, November 20, 2012: No such study or research has been carried out ever on this subject yet. The history of this phenomenon is not very old. It is as old as the petro-dollar’s flow of wealth in the West Asia from Seventies when the influx of job seekers started in the Oil rich Arab states. Having studied the Counselling in Marital problems, I started writing columns in the local Urdu Weekly “Urdu Magazine” published from Jeddah. In response, the concerned readers began calling for help.

I was surprised to discover the fact that almost every 10th Indian, particularly the Muslims, has strained relations with their spouses or in-laws. The number of children affected is countless. Since the local Arab Governments do not show any sympathy or interest to solve the expatriate’s disputes even if they end up with police case, it was inevitable to form an NGO and coordinate with the embassy where the majority of the cases are reported. At an average, 2-3 cases are reported weekly to the Embassy, Weekly’s office and directly to the NGO.

Nature of complaints:

1. Most of the cases are dowry-related. Since the groom’s main qualification of being an NRI seems to supersedes all other academic qualifications, the parents prefer to spend on NRI bride-grooms as the parents wish to see their daughters go abroad. When she lands her she finds him far away from her ideals. The one who could have been a match to her is often, in terms of dowry, out of the capacity of her parents. Therefore, the parents have to overlook the criteria of mental or intellectual or educational matching, they wed their daughters according to their financial affordability.

2. There are many cases where the bride-grooms provided incorrect information about their job, earning, qualifications etc. before the marriage. As a result, the innocent girls found an entirely different standard of life upon arrival, far below their expectations.

3. Many expatriates do not qualify for maintaining “family status” so they cannot obtain the family’s visa. The distance creates many disputes with in-laws and, consequently, they go to the police and courts. The women seeking divorce do not get any help from Qazi. The courts take too long as unless the bride-groom appears in the court, no fast judgment can be passed. Even if the court summons or sends warrant to the bride-groom, he does not respond as the Indian Embassy is not equipped with any power to catch hold of such violators. West Asia is a safe land for those who run away from the family disputes. No Qazi or Court can serve notice to them unless they return back.

A case study: A young man Mr. Mujahid Ali Shah, a native of Hyderabad who had divorced his wife due to anti-dowry case against him, was allowed to meet his two daughters once in a week by the Court. He violated the Court’s instructions, deceived the law bribing some officials and brought the daughters to Jeddah. He is absconding from India. The embassy does not have power to compel his Saudi Sponsor to send him back.

In the same way, we often receive many requests from the parents and Qazis to locate the absconding husbands. The complainants send the copies of the FIR and even Court orders but they are of no use. As long as the Arab sponsor does not exit the wanted person, he has liberty to stay abroad.

4. The sufferings of the Indian Muslim girls married to Arab Shiekhs is a common phenomena. The brokers including Qazis convince the parents of the girls under the pretext of Islamic permission to such marriages and wed the girls with Arabs. The poor parents fall prey. The Sheikhs abandon these girls within a week or two after enjoying a few nights with these girls. There is no agreement between India and other Arab Governments to bring these sheikhs to the courts. There are many girls with children out of this short-term relationship.

5. Similarly, there are many girls who married to the Arabs and came here. They found on arrival that the Sheikh is already married to other wives. Since the Indian maids are considered as more efficient and loyal here, these girls are forced to work like maids.

An example: I came across a case of a Keralite Muslim girl namely Rehana Kulsoom. She belonged to a very poor family. An aged Saudi married her and brought her to Saudi Arabia on a Maid’s visa as the Saudi nationals are not permitted to marry any non-Saudi woman. The innocent girl did not know this. She was assigned to look after the Saudi’s ailing mother who was on wheel chair. The Saudi used to come home once or twice a week and always used to make excuses of his excessive travelling. Later she found out that the man already has got two wives and several children, he needed only a maid to look after his mother. When the mother died after a few years, he sent her back giving her a few hundred Riyals only. While she was forced to attend his mother, he had taken her passport and local ID in his custody and made excuses that he has lost. Eventually, the Embassy had to come to rescue the woman and got her relieved from the torture.

6. The educated girls who had been at jobs in India find very difficult to adjust here as the women are not allowed to work except in the profession of teaching or nursing. The husbands want to live together but the women do not find any attraction in the life without going to jobs. As a result, many a complications arise in the married life.

Example: Ismail Akbar is a 40 years old sales executive in my company, married with 2 sons and a daughter. His wife is a Life Insurance agent and earning over 50,000 Rupee monthly in India. She wants to visit him now and then but not interested in staying permanently. The husband could not resist his natural needs and married a nurse locally. The first wife writ for divorce in Bombay court and Akbar is facing enormous difficulties as he is not willing to part from his wife and children.

7. It is not that only the women are victimized. In many cases, we witnessed the men too are harassed by the wives and their parents. Since most of the expatriates’ second generation too has become a working class abroad, the men who marry locally here, find an army of in-laws around them. The involvement of in-laws from both sides often multiplies the problems.

8. We often find complaints of impotency in the men. The years in the deserts they live before the marriage lead them to the bad habits of pornographic entertainments. They fall in illicit acts of sexual satisfaction and soon lose power. Afraid of defamation after marriage, they accuse the wives of immorality. As a result, the women are victimized due to the false allegations.

9. The advancement of the social media like Facebook, Twitter, etc. have destroyed the morality. Since women are mostly alone at home, willingly or unwillingly they indulge in acquaintance of many such friendships that arouse suspicion in their husbands’ mind and subsequently the relations start getting strained.

Recommendations to the Ministry of Overseas Indians:

1. The embassies must be given power to withhold the passport, or to influence the courts or local police stations in India with their report. Since revocation of the passport needs a long judiciary process, the embassies should have power to instruct the Indian immigration department to seize the passport at the airport itself as soon as the violators arrive at any Indian airport.

2. NGOs who come forward to counsel in the marital problems, must be given legal support by the embassies to take action. The embassy should support the action taken by the NGOs. This will not only reduce the domestic violence, divorces etc but also reduce lot of pressure from the embassy staff who willingly or unwillingly have to get involved in the disputes.

3. There is already an agreement between the Indian Government and most of the Gulf Governments on exchange of terrorists, smugglers etc. There should also be an agreement to exchange the persons who are wanted by any Indian court but they are absconding. If any Indian court issues a warrant against a person, the embassies should be able to compel the Arab sponsor to arrange the deportation of the wanted person.

4. The Community Welfare section of every embassy must be provided with an official counsellor to counsel between the wives and husbands.

5. Strict laws must be introduced to stop the marriages of Indian girls to the Arab nationals. At the same time, more severe punishments too should be introduced against those Qazis and brokers who arrange such marriages in violation to the real Islamic laws.

6. Most important: The Government must ban the dowry system. This is the root of many crimes in the society as well as a worst violation of Women’s Rights. The article 498A or anti-dowry act 1961 and 1986 are not enough to curb the present day’s dowry trends. New strict laws must be introduced to eradicate it.


This article first appeard in Bihar Anjuman’s magazine BaKhabar. Mr. Aleem Khan Falaki is a PhD Research scholar from Maulana Azad National Urdu University, Hyderabad. He is also the President of Socio Reforms Society of India. Based in Jeddah, writer of books on Life Insurance, Dowry system etc. He can be contacted on

– tcn

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