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“Dowry abuse is domestic abuse”

Patrick Louis Soosay, JP

The days when women are “traded” is far from over apparently:


Vicknesh and Sumathi (not their real names) are happily in love and decide to get married. Their families meet. They discuss arrangements and DOWRY (financial payment from wife's family to husband’s. Her family agrees to provide some dowry. They get married. Her family is not able to fulfil all their obligations to the dowry.


The couple moves to Sydney, to a rural area, where Vicknesh has a visa granted. He and his family keep pushing and demanding more dowry. She finds out she is pregnant. She does not qualify for Medicare due to the visa conditions. She goes back to India to have her baby.


The marriage turns pear-shaped as the demands are excessive and add to the stress and anxiety and pressure on her family and herself. This scenario still happens more than you can imagine here in Australia. Dowry abuse is an indicator of exploitation. Dowry abuse in Australia is linked to family violence, murders and suicide, both here and back in their country of origin.


A Senate committee has identified dowry abuse as a direct cause of family violence, murders, and suicides in Australia, but has ruled out recommending a specific law to criminalize the practice in a significant step towards protecting the rights of women on temporary visas, the committee has recommended creating a temporary visa for non-family temporary visa-holders who have suffered serious and proven family violence, including dowry abuse.


This so-called “Woman at Risk in Australia” visa would also be accessible to female international students or women on sponsored visitor visas.


The visa would allow a victim to make necessary arrangements for their and their family’s protection and security. As well as arrangements to return to their home country or to apply for a further visa.


As a White Ribbon Ambassador myself, I see this as a key area where the education and engagement of men and children through various programs can help address and deliver

much-needed education surrounding these issues. In my role as Manager at Harris Park Community Centre, I come across many instances and forms of abuse perpetrated towards women and children by their husbands. In most cases, these men do even recognize that what they perpetrating is actually doing more harm and good. They think it’s their right to be able to treat their wives and children the way they do.


The TIME to CHANGE is now. Change for a better future for our kids and their kids and families. There are huge complexities for women in CALD communities to access the support they desperately need. We have to work closely with people in these communities to address these barriers.


Fathers who are aware of, and role model, their social responsibility produce better social and wellbeing outcomes, not only for themselves but also for their children.


Should you require more information feel free to contact me at manager@hpcc.org.au or for more information and support around Dowry abuse, contact info@icsa.net.au


Patrick Louis Soosay, JP

White Ribbon Ambassador

Manager Harris Park

Community Centre.

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