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  • Marrying abroad and abuse of immigrant brides

    by Sunny
    26th February, 2007 at 1:21 am    

    Today is the day my first radio documentary - Lost in Translation - is broadcast at 6:30pm on the BBC Asian Network. I’ll be on the station at 9am in a debate discussing why so many British Asian men every year choose to marry a bride from South Asia.

    I have also written an article (my first) for The Times newspaper today. You can buy a copy to see my picture or read it online here. I believe some of the Indian press will also be running something. I’m working on something for comment is free too.

                  Post to

    Filed in: Culture,Sex equality,South Asia

    17 Comments below   |  

    Reactions: Twitter, blogs
    1. The Real Man Fraternity

      Sunny Jim’s ‘Lost in Translation’…

      Credit to Sunny Hundal (Pickled Politics), who tackles the issue of oppression and violence suffered by the immigrant wives of British Asian men. I believe that any work that assists in giving a voice to the previously voiceless, is highly honourable…..

    1. Riz — on 26th February, 2007 at 1:29 am  

      Good work amigo…now that’s what I call a productive Monday!

    2. douglas clark — on 26th February, 2007 at 3:48 am  


      That’s an excellent article you did for the Times.

    3. daily — on 26th February, 2007 at 9:02 am  

      This is a very presumption article in that only the women from Asian countries suffer.
      “it is the sexist attitudes towards women that some people hold.”

      Had you done your research properly you would find that its not just some women who suffer and it far more complex then a sexist attitude. You are just trying to tick a box.
      Its also the men who suffer at the hands of women. I personally know five cases where men have been a victim of abuse once they arrived from India.

      Much of the abuse arise out of a culture clash. The initial periods of adjustment are the hardest. Many successful marriage are taking place and Im sure youre brother is going to treat his wife with dignity.
      Even if youre brother is happy lets hope others in your family don’t interfere in their lives. The old Asian mother in law problem is still one of the biggest cause of family break ups.
      Sister in laws are the second biggest.
      Then probably the sexist attitude of some men.

      Some UK men don’t have control of their lives as they do the bidding of their mothers and family and even the idle gossip from the woman next door who come to stir shit.
      Community friends and family also make idle comments about brides or husbands from abroad. There is a lot of shit stirring, jealousy and winding up in the Asian community. So please don’t just box it as women problem.

      It happens to the men in much the same way.
      If you are going to highlight this problem then don’t just stick to womens only.
      Its more then a simple attitude towards women problem .

    4. zahed — on 26th February, 2007 at 10:40 am  

      Excellent work, Sunny… looking forward to hearing the documentary!

    5. Raj — on 26th February, 2007 at 11:16 am  


      Overall a good piece & I’ll try to catch your documentary.
      However, you talk about changing the naturalisation process. Now, I got married almost a decade ago & things may have changed since then but at that point the process was.
      1) you enter the country with provisional permanent residency which lasts a year. During this period you can work etc.
      2) at the end of the year you need to show that you are still in a married relationship. My wife & I needed to show bills coming to the same address etc. At this point the migrating partner now has permanent residency in the UK & could theoretically start diorce proceedings the next day & still stay in the UK for the rest of their life.

      IMO I don’t think that asking for a marriage to last for one year prior to giving permanent residenct is too much to ask.

    6. sonia — on 26th February, 2007 at 4:33 pm  

      good stuff. it is also worth pointing out that in the fewer cases where girls have been made to marry men from ‘back home’ sometimes they have had similar problems of dependency - as they are effectively ‘hostage’ to the in-laws - they are dependent on spouses for getting citizenship eventually etc. etc. usually not qualified for getting jobs here etc. So there seems to be something in the getting a ‘spouse’ from back home which is tied up with issues of control.

      i’ve been reading some blogs lately by asian blokes and what was being dissected was precisely this issue of why more men go back to get married rather than women, and the prevalent assumption that girls back home will be more ‘submissive’ and ‘pure’. Heh - the interesting thing was there seems to be an increasing realization that actually girls ‘back home’ aren’t necessarily a) all that submissive and b) all that pure!

    7. sonia — on 26th February, 2007 at 4:55 pm  

      specific points : you say in your article that -

      “The legislation also needs to change to put the naturalisation process into women’s hands, rather than that of their partners.” What precisely do you mean - which aspect of the legislation are you referring to specifically?

      I think it’s worth being very clear because otherwise there is so much confusion about what actually can and needs to be done. If you are applying for naturalisation on the basis of marriage to a British citizen ( bear with me please - i’m going to be going through this fairly soon) you do need to prove that you are married still - which requires your partner’s signature. Whether male or female. So yes, in that way - it is in your partners’ hands. But apart from that signature, if a woman is capable of filling in the forms in English - then she can sort it out herself. but there you go - back to the point of one would have to be fluent in English in the first place etc. etc. Because if the spouse has no knowledge of English they are automatically going to be dependent on the partner. But the crux of the matter is that naturalisation based on marriage to a British citizen requires that marriage to be alive and the partner needs to sign the form to testify to that.

      The interesting thing is I have read the guidance and it says that if your marriage has broken down one should seek help from the immigration authorities as there may be ways to stay in your own right anyway. and that they are particularly sensitive to women who are in marital difficulties because of abuse/violence etc. From what I have heard from caseworkers, if a woman has informed the police and her doctor etc. it is fairly easy to prove domestic abuse and human rights require that she receive as much help as she can i.e. be allowed to stay as it is not her fault the marriage has broken down. Of course - again - back to the critical point - you wouldn’t know any of this stuff necessarily, unless you were able to communicate and find things out for yourself.

      Perhaps one way could be that when the spouse is applying for a visa to come into the country, there could be an accompanying pack explainging what rights/recourse to justice is available to them should anything happen to them within the marriage, or in case of breakdown of the marriage.

      But generally, it seems worth trying to pressure authorities to be sympathetic to people who find themselves in that situation.

    8. Riz — on 26th February, 2007 at 4:57 pm  

      Just a heads up that you don’t have to wait to listen to the radio doc. The BBC Asian network page has a link where you can listen to the programme at any time.

    9. sonia — on 26th February, 2007 at 4:59 pm  

      The more attention we pay to these kinds of human rights abuses the better.

      But I do think there is the disgusting element which is that what kind of parents send their ‘child’ into marriage somewhere far away, where they are not a citizen - without ensuring they have done their best to help said child should anything happen, or giving them any kind of advice?

    10. sonia — on 26th February, 2007 at 5:03 pm  

      The other factor that complicates all of this is of course the law of nation-states and the concept of citizenship in itself.

    11. lithcol — on 26th February, 2007 at 6:19 pm  

      Hey, my son is marrying an American and will live in America. She is delightful, independent minded, possibly a democrat although difficult to tell. They have mutual respect, however I feel he is in for culture shock.

      Interesting article Sunny, congratulations.

    12. DR1001 — on 26th February, 2007 at 10:56 pm  

      In a situation where one person is going to leave their country to be with another and is ‘depending’ on the spouse for documents can face challenges in their relationship.
      Moving to a new country, finding jobs, adjusting to culture (and yes There is a BIG culture shock from UK to even US) is stressful and can put strains on a good relationship.

      In the heinous situations where the spouse (man or woman) is treated badly by the others family, abandoned etc that is magnified so that person definely needs try and reach out to anyone who can help.

    13. Galloise Blonde — on 28th February, 2007 at 1:52 pm  

      Good stuff.

    14. Tasneem Khalil — on 1st March, 2007 at 12:11 pm  

      On topic: Article by Maria Chaudhuri in Forum detailing the epidemic of domestic violence that so many South Asian women who travel abroad for marriage are forced to endure. Eye-opening.

    15. sonia — on 1st March, 2007 at 1:18 pm  

      thanks tasneem.

    16. Moses — on 5th March, 2007 at 4:47 am  

      wonderful work my friend, wish we could have more of your voice here in North America

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