National Commission for Women unveils its NRI cell


New Delhi : The National Commission for Women (NCW) Thursday inaugurated its NRI cell to tackle the rising number of cases of abandonment and divorce of women married to Indian men abroad, and received eight complaints on its first day.

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NCW chairperson Girija Vyas and project partner UNIFEM (United Nations Development Fund for Women) South Asia head Anne H. Stenhammer along with Planning Commission member Syeda Hamid opened the office that operates from the second floor of the NCW office at Deen Dayal Upadhyay Marg.

The NRI cell will provide legal counselling to women deserted by their overseas husbands. It will give recommendations to the government on policies related to NRI marriages. Besides, the cell will also carry out awareness campaigns on the subject.

Day one saw the cell being approached by eight anxious women having troubled relationships with their husbands abroad.

“I am very happy to see that most of the girls were accompanied by a parent or relative. This area of NRI marriages needs to be looked at urgently. We have tied up with local service providers and NGOs in the US, UK, Canada as well as Australia to coordinate mediation efforts,” Vyas told reporters.

Stenhammer stressed the need to expand the reach of the NRI cell.

“We will soon look at how to expand the NRI cell in India and abroad. Embassy support is crucial for NRI women. That is where they first approach with a grievance. So, embassy officials need to be equipped and competent to deal with such complaints. In this direction, I feel the ministry and the NCW could apply for funds and UNIFEM’s technical advice cell can advise them.”

According to figures tabled by the ministry of overseas Indian affairs in parliament, 55 complaints were registered against NRIs for abandoning their wives in 2008. This year, the number has already reached 42.

The NCW opened the cell after it was nominated as the coordinating agency for dealing with NRI marriages in April this year. The women’s panel has already started the first overseas office at the Indian embassy in Britain to act as a helpline for abandoned wives and put them in touch with local voluntary agencies.