A new report by the University of Lincoln in the U.K. highlights the plight of South Asia’s “disposable women,” who are wed by British men and then abandoned. Researchers, who surveyed 57 women in India, found that husbands can gain thousands of pounds in dowry money from their wives’ families before deserting their new brides in the U.K., or — more commonly — in India. The abandoned women are often subjected to violence and exploited as domestic slaves by their in-laws.
Reporting on this issue, the BBC interviewed a woman identified only as “Sunita,” who was married to a British man in India’s Punjab region. Her family paid £3,000, as well as around £4,000 in gold, to her husband’s family as a dowry. The couple planned to live together in the U.K. One month after the wedding, however, Sunita’s husband returned home and gradually cut off communication with his wife. Sunita eventually found out that at the time of their wedding, he was already married to another woman.
Stigma against abandoned women can prevent victims from marrying new partners, and can even make it difficult for them to find work. “I’m very upset. I’m finding it hard to talk about,” Sunita told the BBC. “[My husband] made [sexual] relations with me, my life is ruined.”
The University of Lincoln’s report recommends that the British state recognize spousal abandonment as a form of domestic abuse, so that “disposable women” will have recourse to legal action. A spokesperson for the Home Office told the BBC that the government “will look carefully at any evidence of where further action might help to prevent abuse or support victims.”
Read the full story at the BBC.