Dowry remains a significant problem in India causing the death of 7,621 women, according to the Indian National Crime Records Bureau. Even down under, you’ve instances of it occurring every once in a while.
It’s why some Indian advocacy groups believe that the government needs to introduce new laws against dowry abuse, with the problem also existing in Australia.
But not all professionals and community leaders agree- they simply think new laws aren’t the right way to go about it. Part of the problem is that opinions seem divided as to whether we have a dowry problem here in Australia.
We Don’t Have Dowry Problem in Australia
President of Australia India Society of Victoria, Dr, Gurdip Aurora, doesn’t think that Australia needs federal dowry legislation. The recipient of the highest Indian award for community work outside India, Dr. Aurora, commented that if there is any dowry problem, they are inherited from India.
He states that no one in Australia asks for dowry, and it can only happen when they go back to India. As a result, the Australian government cannot do anything as there is no dowry problem. India already has strict anti-dowry laws, but Dr. Aurora thinks they have not worked.
Feeling offended that some people have targeted the Indian community, he cautioned the Australian government about migrants on temporary visas who could use dowry to meet the costs of living in the country.
Australian Law is Strong Enough to Deal with Dowry
Expert family counselor Muktesh Chibber from Melbourne feels that the current Australian laws are enough to tackle economic abuse in marriages. She questions the validity of dowry in this age and thinks it doesn’t exist anymore.
Chibber suggests that the nation should place its trust in the Australian Family Violence Act and there is no need for duplicate laws which only give rise to confusions. The current laws were enough to address any cases of financial abuse or violence faced in marriages. She also suggests that the advocacy groups should perform diligent research to substantiate their claims on the extent of dowry cases in Australia.
She commented that Australia is intelligent enough not to act on anecdotal evidence without adequate research and formulate any new legislation.
We Need to Educate New Students and Migrant Families in the Country
Dr. Madhumita Iyengar, head of Canberra-based organization Initiative for Women in Need, has handled countless cases of family violence among the Indian community in Australia. She doesn’t think that there is any need for separate legislation as the offenses are already covered under the Family Violence Act.
She suggests that all the community organizations should work to educate the migrant families and students coming into the country. She commented that they need to develop a network and use the available government funding to carry out a program to support every new migrant that arrives in the country. The efforts should also be extended to the families already living here for maximum effectiveness.