Holiday Brides in Punjab

Almost two years ago I blogged about an NPR story that highlighted the issue of Runaway Grooms. Today, I once again write about the same issue – this time the media terms it “Holiday Brides” – a different name telling the same story. We should be outraged that years after we first heard about this issue, we are still having the same conversation. We are told that about 20,000 women have been deserted by men in the UK, US and Canada who promise to return to India and never do. The most recent questions is then, why are Punjabi women still falling for this obvious scam?

_46764969_280720094871.jpgIn a dusty village in the Jagraon district of Punjab, northern India, 35-year-old Suman (which is not her real name), lives with her widowed mother in a small room in a crumbling building. Four years ago, the secondary school teacher married a British man in a wedding arranged by relatives. Shortly after the ceremony, her husband, who is in his 50s, left for London with the promise he would send for her. At first all appeared to go well. “He would visit two to three times a year. “Whenever he came to India, we had a good time,” she said. However, on one visit he claimed her application for a spousal visa to the UK had been refused. It was like being a prostitute you take along and have a good time with and then leave behind ‘Suman’, 35”He told me he had applied for an appeal. “But he has never shown me a copy of that appeal. He’s never shown me any documents.” The visits and calls ended, and for the past six months Suman has had no contact with her husband. “In hindsight, it was like being a prostitute you take along and have a good time with and then leave behind. [link]

Though abandoned wives have the option of divorcing their missing husbands, many of them do not remarry. Divorce is still stigmatized in Punjab, and women are forced to rely on their families for financial help. A BBC article and an Asian Network documentary attempt to explain the obsession with emigration and economics. Development in Punjabi is at a halt and the prospect of a life in the UK, Canada or the US is tempting at the least. This desire for opportunities in the West often forces these young women and their families to ignore the red flags.

In India, paying and accepting a dowry – a centuries-old tradition where the bride’s parents present gifts of cash, clothes and jewellery to the groom’s family – has been illegal since 1961. But the practice still thrives in rural areas, and a British Indian groom can command a dowry of up to 20,000 in Punjab. After Rani’s marriage, her in-laws demanded more cash, but her parents could not pay, and she was dumped. “After marriage, they physically and mentally tortured me. “He made me abort my baby, then they threw me out of their house.” Rani still wears her wedding bangles in the hope that she will one day be reunited with her husband in England. I managed to trace Rani’s husband in England. He claims to have left her after discovering she had a boyfriend who she continued to see after they were wed.

Politician Balwant Ramoowalia, of the Lok Bhalai party in Punjab, believes both India and Britain should clamp down. He suggests that if there is any misconduct or fraud, the men should be extradited to India. As a measure of preventing this type of abandonment, he states that a photograph of the married couple should be pasted inside their passport so that marital status cannot be tampered with. In addition, 75% of any land owned by the man in India should be transferred to the wife. Activist and Lawyer, Daljit Kaur, suggests that we should “name and shame” runaway grooms publicly. There has to be a way for prospective brides and their families to search for these men and confirm whether or not they have been previously married.

However, according to one matrimonial “expert”, British men are the ones being taken advantage of. Apparently, Punjabi women are only after their passport.

UK matrimonial expert Tahir Mahmood helps arrange marriages, and believes British men are the victims. “Anyone from back home (India), they want British, British, British… the girls over there, don’t care if someone has been married twice before, they don’t care how he looks like or what his background is.”

I’m not convinced. Read the article and listed to the documentary and hear from yourself. What are we going to do about it?


bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark
tabs-top


61 Responses to “Holiday Brides in Punjab”

  1. Harinder says:

    I think a simple answer is to change rules to
    allow men who are smart ,wealthy ,with relevant passports ( British in this case ) and capable of providing for more than one willing wife ;
    be legalised to do so .
    Mia bibi razi to kay karega Kazi ?
    I dont think their is any religious law against it..

  2. Harinder says:

    I think a simple answer is to change rules to
    allow men who are smart ,wealthy ,with relevant passports ( British in this case ) and capable of providing for more than one willing wife ;
    be legalised to do so .
    Mia bibi razi to kay karega Kazi ?
    I dont think their is any religious law against it..

  3. Mandeep says:

    Nothing in this world is perfect. If a women (or family) in India accepts to marry someone from abroad, they must accept these types of consequences. They should try their best to do a full background check, but after that, they have to accept the consequences. I believe people should only marry if they are from the same city, country or at least have the means to travel to each other without requiring special travel arrangements (VISA, sponsorship, etc.). At least this way, one person can’t easily “disappear”. Overseas marriages just don’t seem to be working very well, and people have to understand that. I do realize that some people have no options but to marry overseas, but like I said, then be prepared to face these consequences. Everyone has to take responsibility for themselves and be educated about these issues.

  4. Mandeep says:

    Nothing in this world is perfect. If a women (or family) in India accepts to marry someone from abroad, they must accept these types of consequences. They should try their best to do a full background check, but after that, they have to accept the consequences. I believe people should only marry if they are from the same city, country or at least have the means to travel to each other without requiring special travel arrangements (VISA, sponsorship, etc.). At least this way, one person can’t easily “disappear”. Overseas marriages just don’t seem to be working very well, and people have to understand that. I do realize that some people have no options but to marry overseas, but like I said, then be prepared to face these consequences. Everyone has to take responsibility for themselves and be educated about these issues.

  5. the_rank_and_dumb says:

    Another irresponsible article on http://www.thelangarhall.com.

    Sundari where did ‘they’ get the number of 20,000 cases of marriage fraud.

    Is this number from the last 100 years, 50 years, or 20 years.

    Once again why are we(Sikhs) being lumped in with the muslim community.

    Especially on a site like this one that knows the difference between Sikhs, muslims, and hindus.

    Why of all places is it on this site that the view points of the muslim male (Tahir Mahmood) the official go to response to an issue that is being presented as a Sikh issue.

    Perhaps the reason you(sundari) are so easily deceived or deceptive is because it is in the nature of your kind to be so. After all you are the likes of one who took the forbidden apple from the serpent in the garden of eden and passed it off to adam.

  6. the_rank_and_dumb says:

    Another irresponsible article on http://www.thelangarhall.com.

    Sundari where did they get the number of 20,000 cases of marriage fraud.

    Is this number from the last 100 years, 50 years, or 20 years.

    Once again why are we(Sikhs) being lumped in with the muslim community.
    Especially on a site like this one that knows the difference between Sikhs, muslims, and hindus.

    Why of all places is it on this site that the view points of the muslim male (Tahir Mahmood) the official go to response to an issue that is being presented as a Sikh issue.

    Perhaps the reason you(sundari) are so easily deceived or deceptive is because it is in the nature of your kind to be so. After all you are the likes of one who took the forbidden apple from the serpent in the garden of eden and passed it off to adam.

  7. P.Singh says:

    the_rank_and_dumb wrote:

    " Perhaps the reason you(sundari) are so easily deceived or deceptive is because it is in the nature of your kind to be so. After all you are the likes of one who took the forbidden apple from the serpent in the garden of eden and passed it off to adam. "

    So what you're saying is, "it was women like you who led to the fall of man, and it is women who are to be blamed." Moreover, you are saying that women deserve the blame for being victims. Good job.

    Traditionally, the church found strength in this story of adam and eve (among other things), to expound upon a woman's proper role in society – that women were generally 'at fault', and should know and accept their subordinate status in society, and be submissive to the men in their lives – whether in church or in their families.

    None of my Christian friends buy into this line of thinking; pitiful to see that you do. Even more pitiful considering such thoughts run counter to Sikh principles.

  8. Sundari says:

    Mandeep, i don't think abandonment and domestic violence is ever an acceptable excuse in any situation. I agree that marriage is a huge risk, no matter where in the world you reside. However, women living in Punjab are perhaps more vulnerable than women living outside of Punjab – and their circumstances are much different. Wanting to fulfill their dreams of a better life is not an absurd concept to me. Saying these women have to "be prepared to face these consequences" is particularly insensitive.

  9. Sundari says:

    Mandeep, i don't think abandonment and domestic violence is ever an acceptable excuse in any situation. I agree that marriage is a huge risk, no matter where in the world you reside. However, women living in Punjab are perhaps more vulnerable than women living outside of Punjab – and their circumstances are much different. Wanting to fulfill their dreams of a better life is not an absurd concept to me. Saying these women have to "be prepared to face these consequences" is particularly insensitive.

  10. Sundari says:

    the_rank_and_dumb, if you read the post then you would know that nowhere do i make this a "Sikh" issue or any religion's issue infact. Please don't take away from the issue at hand by inserting some religious controversy that does not exist. We have blogged about this issue before [http://thelangarhall.com/punjabi/breaking-the-sil… – and i ask you to please not hijak this thread and make this conversation about a topic that it is not.

    If you read the article and listen to the report, you will see that the number is given by Daljit Kaur – a lawyer and human rights activist. She deals with these women on a daily basis and has been for years. I predict it's difficult to know for sure how many women have been abandoned since this issue is (obviously) still stigmatized.

  11. Sundari says:

    the_rank_and_dumb, if you read the post then you would know that nowhere do i make this a "Sikh" issue or any religion's issue infact. Please don't take away from the issue at hand by inserting some religious controversy that does not exist. We have blogged about this issue before [http://thelangarhall.com/punjabi/breaking-the-sil… – and i ask you to please not hijak this thread and make this conversation about a topic that it is not.

    If you read the article and listen to the report, you will see that the number is given by Daljit Kaur – a lawyer and human rights activist. She deals with these women on a daily basis and has been for years. I predict it's difficult to know for sure how many women have been abandoned since this issue is (obviously) still stigmatized.

  12. P.Singh says:

    the_rank_and_dumb wrote:

    " Perhaps the reason you(sundari) are so easily deceived or deceptive is because it is in the nature of your kind to be so. After all you are the likes of one who took the forbidden apple from the serpent in the garden of eden and passed it off to adam. "

    So what you're saying is, "it was women like you who led to the fall of man, and it is women who are to be blamed." Moreover, you are saying that women deserve the blame for being victims. Good job.

    Traditionally, the church found strength in this story of adam and eve (among other things), to expound upon a woman's proper role in society – that women were generally 'at fault', and should know and accept their subordinate status in society, and be submissive to the men in their lives – whether in church or in their families.

    None of my Christian friends buy into this line of thinking; pitiful to see that you do. Even more pitiful considering such thoughts run counter to Sikh principles.

  13. the_rank_and_dumb says:

    Yes, I’m saying that the likes of sundari is being deceptive in misrepresenting the issue at hand by engaging in this type of irresponsible journalism.

    P.Sing

    if you use the application of the story of adam and eve to mean

    that women should be subservient to men than this is the belief that you

    and Christians like you hold onto as your own pitifull interpretion of your

    everyday lives.

    And stop acting internet noble, just like in everyday life its not who you really are.

    You falsely suggest that others wish for these women to suffer, and then you pretending like you are coming to the aid of the women, while you really have nothing to offer.

    People like you P. Sing don’t help others, you and sundari just know where to slide once the venom has made your victim vulnerable.

    To all Sikh Brothers and Sisters, be careful of the Chicken Little response put out by the G.O.I (government of india), wrong sided white political organization’s from the West, and leftist acting indians with a guilty caste complex.

  14. the_rank_and_dumb says:

    Yes, Im saying that the likes of sundari is being deceptive in misrepresenting the issue at hand by engaging in this type of irresponsible journalism.

    P.Sing

    if you use the application of the story of adam and eve to mean
    that women should be subservient to men than this is the belief that you
    and Christians like you hold onto as your own pitifull interpretion of your
    everyday lives.

    And stop acting internet noble, just like in everyday life its not who you really are.

    You falsely suggest that others wish for these women to suffer, and then you pretending like you are coming to the aid of the women, while you really have nothing to offer.

    People like you P. Sing dont help others, you and sundari just know where to slide once the venom has made your victim vulnerable.

    To all Sikh Brothers and Sisters, be careful of the Chicken Little response put out by the G.O.I (government of india), wrong sided white political organizations from the West, and leftist acting indians with a guilty caste complex.

  15. KDS says:

    [quote]Wanting to fulfill their dreams of a better life is not an absurd concept to me. Saying these women have to "be prepared to face these consequences" is particularly insensitive.[/quote]

    No It is not insensitive .The theory of Risk reward is applicable to all whether you are in business or in life.If these women and their parents took risk to marry them to an an NRI without proper verification
    then these type of cases are going to happen.The only way to eliminate is parents should do proper verification.Its much better for them marry their daughters to hard working INdian boys which are properly verified than marrying them to unknown rich NRI because they themself have dreams of immigrating to Canada ,USA,UK

  16. KDS says:

    [quote]Wanting to fulfill their dreams of a better life is not an absurd concept to me. Saying these women have to "be prepared to face these consequences" is particularly insensitive.[/quote]

    No It is not insensitive .The theory of Risk reward is applicable to all whether you are in business or in life.If these women and their parents took risk to marry them to an an NRI without proper verification
    then these type of cases are going to happen.The only way to eliminate is parents should do proper verification.Its much better for them marry their daughters to hard working INdian boys which are properly verified than marrying them to unknown rich NRI because they themself have dreams of immigrating to Canada ,USA,UK

  17. Harinder says:

    Holiday brides may be one section of Punjabi woman appx 1 % ( 20,000/200,00000/) of Sikhs.
    At the other end one know of several woman who have had the best of both worlds in Punjab and in the West.
    Womans may try to potray themselves as victims;
    but in the end they are alway the winners given their genetic endowment

  18. Harinder says:

    Holiday brides may be one section of Punjabi woman appx 1 % ( 20,000/200,00000/) of Sikhs.
    At the other end one know of several woman who have had the best of both worlds in Punjab and in the West.
    Womans may try to potray themselves as victims;
    but in the end they are alway the winners given their genetic endowment

  19. K Singh says:

    I completely agree that this trend of holiday's brides is quite sickening and my heart goes out to all those affected by this.

    Also important to note, is the rising number of girls from punjab that marry just for the sake of getting citizenship in the west and then leave once they get it. To be honest, i feel this is way more prevalent than the 'holiday brides' situation.

    To date, i have never heard of a 'holiday bride' case from all of my family and friends…but I can name numerous cases where girls have ran away as soon as they got citizenship.

    PS, i'm not saying one is worser than the other (holiday brides probably is worser), just that one is happening more (in my opnion) but isn't getting as much press.

  20. K Singh says:

    I completely agree that this trend of holiday's brides is quite sickening and my heart goes out to all those affected by this.

    Also important to note, is the rising number of girls from punjab that marry just for the sake of getting citizenship in the west and then leave once they get it. To be honest, i feel this is way more prevalent than the 'holiday brides' situation.

    To date, i have never heard of a 'holiday bride' case from all of my family and friends…but I can name numerous cases where girls have ran away as soon as they got citizenship.

    PS, i'm not saying one is worser than the other (holiday brides probably is worser), just that one is happening more (in my opnion) but isn't getting as much press.

  21. Jay Singh says:

    I have to say, I find the figure of 20,000 a little unbelievable. There are 340,000 Sikhs in the UK, and 20,000 brides ending up like this is a really large percentage of that, and whilst I have read about this, I have not seen it to that extent, that over 10% of Sikh men in Britain carry out these frauds. It may be that these figures are in total for the whole of the Sikh diaspora. However, having said that, this is obviously a repulsive practice, and I would encourage the authorities in India and the UK to not only prosecute and if nessecary extradite offenders, but to publically name and shame the people who do this in newspapers and advertising campaigns. It needs to be stamped out.

  22. Jay Singh says:

    I have to say, I find the figure of 20,000 a little unbelievable. There are 340,000 Sikhs in the UK, and 20,000 brides ending up like this is a really large percentage of that, and whilst I have read about this, I have not seen it to that extent, that over 10% of Sikh men in Britain carry out these frauds. It may be that these figures are in total for the whole of the Sikh diaspora. However, having said that, this is obviously a repulsive practice, and I would encourage the authorities in India and the UK to not only prosecute and if nessecary extradite offenders, but to publically name and shame the people who do this in newspapers and advertising campaigns. It needs to be stamped out.

  23. Jay Singh says:

    "Womans may try to potray themselves as victims; but in the end they are alway the winners given their genetic endowment"

    ++++++

    Considering that there is gender disparity caused by female selective abortion, and women are on the sharp end of domestic violence, this clearly is just wishful thinking.

  24. Jay Singh says:

    "Womans may try to potray themselves as victims; but in the end they are alway the winners given their genetic endowment"

    ++++++

    Considering that there is gender disparity caused by female selective abortion, and women are on the sharp end of domestic violence, this clearly is just wishful thinking.

  25. Sundari says:

    Just to clarify, the article stated that there were between 15,000 – 20,000 abandoned brides in India. It does not state that these brides are soley Sikh. It does mention that these men come from the UK, US and Canada. Another article from 2007 states the same statistic: http://www.macleans.ca/article.jsp?content=200703

    Whether 20,000 women have been abanonded or 20, it is still wrong and so i'm a little baffled as to why this conversation is focused on the statistic rather than the issue at hand. It is clearly a problem and the number should not distract from the impact it has on a young woman's life, her family and her future.

  26. Sundari says:

    Just to clarify, the article stated that there were between 15,000 – 20,000 abandoned brides in India. It does not state that these brides are soley Sikh. It does mention that these men come from the UK, US and Canada. Another article from 2007 states the same statistic: http://www.macleans.ca/article.jsp?content=200703

    Whether 20,000 women have been abanonded or 20, it is still wrong and so i'm a little baffled as to why this conversation is focused on the statistic rather than the issue at hand. It is clearly a problem and the number should not distract from the impact it has on a young woman's life, her family and her future.

  27. Mewa Singh says:

    Sundari,

    For previous evidence of the same phenomenon.

    See 2006 Jakara Women's Online Survey:

    http://fateh.sikhnet.com/Sikhnet/discussion.nsf/7

  28. Mewa Singh says:

    Sundari,

    For previous evidence of the same phenomenon.

    See 2006 Jakara Women's Online Survey:

    http://fateh.sikhnet.com/Sikhnet/discussion.nsf/7

  29. Jay Singh says:

    Sundari, I was just relating to my own experience relating to the figures, that is all. And I did say in my post that these cases are obscene and extradition to India for the culprits should be looked at – put them in prison and it will soon end. In a wider way, this is what happens when power dynamics are so skewed – those immoral people living with wealth in the west can exploit those in India so easily because of their desire to move out on the basis of a marriage.

  30. Jay Singh says:

    Sundari, I was just relating to my own experience relating to the figures, that is all. And I did say in my post that these cases are obscene and extradition to India for the culprits should be looked at – put them in prison and it will soon end. In a wider way, this is what happens when power dynamics are so skewed – those immoral people living with wealth in the west can exploit those in India so easily because of their desire to move out on the basis of a marriage.

  31. Sundari says:

    Jay, your point is well taken – and i agree that there needs to be some accountability in place and it needs to be enforced. There are so many elements to this issue: exploitation, emigration, economics… While there may not be a robust and valid data collection system in place, i strongly believe that this is a problem that needs to be addressed both within India and by diasporic communities.

  32. Sundari says:

    Jay, your point is well taken – and i agree that there needs to be some accountability in place and it needs to be enforced. There are so many elements to this issue: exploitation, emigration, economics… While there may not be a robust and valid data collection system in place, i strongly believe that this is a problem that needs to be addressed both within India and by diasporic communities.

  33. Mac Daddy says:

    There are plenty of hard working indian men who live in India. Think of NRI boy as poison. Now you know the poison kills then why would I complaint after eating it. We know the facts very well. In other words, there has been numerous stories about NRI marriage fraud then why these girls continue to marry NRI boys. Plus, girls in Punjab should realize that NRI groom/families are not dumb to not to figure out what girls do in Punjab. Most girls in Punjab have boyfriends and they take sex education 101 in the corn fields near their villages. Most of the times they just marry NRI grooms so they can later divorce them/extort money/and bring their boyfriends to USA, UK, Canada or whereever. I know this will never get published but it is the truth. TRUTH IS ALWAY BITTER!!!

  34. Mac Daddy says:

    There are plenty of hard working indian men who live in India. Think of NRI boy as poison. Now you know the poison kills then why would I complaint after eating it. We know the facts very well. In other words, there has been numerous stories about NRI marriage fraud then why these girls continue to marry NRI boys. Plus, girls in Punjab should realize that NRI groom/families are not dumb to not to figure out what girls do in Punjab. Most girls in Punjab have boyfriends and they take sex education 101 in the corn fields near their villages. Most of the times they just marry NRI grooms so they can later divorce them/extort money/and bring their boyfriends to USA, UK, Canada or whereever. I know this will never get published but it is the truth. TRUTH IS ALWAY BITTER!!!

  35. Harinder says:

    All is fair in "LOVE AND WAR" Daddy

  36. Harinder says:

    All is fair in "LOVE AND WAR" Daddy

  37. […] few weeks ago we posted about the issue of women in Punjab marrying men from outside of Punjab, to only be deserted by them […]

  38. Punjaban says:

    I've heard about these "runaway grooms" (and to a lesser extent, "runaway brides") who have basically been paid for their visa services (green card in the US). The main question that arises though is this: If they have upwards of $50 000 to spend to come abroad in search of a better life, they might not be as sad a story as they might seem? Why not take that money and use it to their benefit in Punjab rather than spending all that money marrying their meal ticket? People who are willing to sell their daughters (themselves?) so they can go to Westernized nations for financial/civil gain don't get as much sympathy from me as those who are forced to sell themselves so they can eat for the week.

  39. Punjaban says:

    I've heard about these "runaway grooms" (and to a lesser extent, "runaway brides") who have basically been paid for their visa services (green card in the US). The main question that arises though is this: If they have upwards of $50 000 to spend to come abroad in search of a better life, they might not be as sad a story as they might seem? Why not take that money and use it to their benefit in Punjab rather than spending all that money marrying their meal ticket? People who are willing to sell their daughters (themselves?) so they can go to Westernized nations for financial/civil gain don't get as much sympathy from me as those who are forced to sell themselves so they can eat for the week.

  40. India's culture is marked by a high degree of syncretism and cultural pluralism. It has managed to preserve established traditions while absorbing new customs, traditions, and ideas from invaders and immigrants and spreading its cultural influence to other parts of Asia.

  41. Traditional Indian society is defined by relatively strict social hierarchy. The Indian caste system describes the social stratification and social restrictions in the Indian subcontinent, in which social classes are defined by thousands of endogamous hereditary groups, often termed as jātis or castes.

    wedding hair and makeup margaret river, bridal stores margaret river, bridal store margaret river, online bridal stores margaret river, online bridal stores australia

  42. It's exactly what you think it is, the bride wants to make sure the wedding gets her the most amount of attention possible and the best way to do that is to not allow anyone else to focus on anything other than the wedding.

  43. Holdiay's come every year so while it may be a bit inconvenient to give it up to attend a friend's wedding, you should still go. A wedding is once in a lifetime and if you miss it for something that comes every year you risk ruining the relationship.bridal store margaret river
    online bridal stores margaret river
    online bridal stores australia
    online bridal stores
    wedding dress designers australia

  44. Sundari, I was just relating to my own experience relating to the figures, that is all. And I did say in my post that these cases are obscene and extradition to India for the culprits should be looked at – put them in prison and it will soon end. In a wider way, this is what happens when power dynamics are so skewed – those immoral people living with wealth in the west can exploit those in India so easily because of their desire to move out on the basis of a marriage