A Melbourne psychiatrist Dr Manjula O Connor believes that half of all Indian origin families living in Victoria face dowry issues in varying degrees, and will greatly benefit from the Victorian Royal Commission's recommendation, that an anti dowry legislation should be enforced.
Speaking to SBS Punjabi program after the Victorian Royal Commission into Family Violence proposed 227 recommendations last week, Dr Manjula O Connor stated that dowry "continues to be a major contributor" to family violence in the South Asian community, particularly the Indian community.
Based on statistics she has gathered from family violence victims who seek help at her clinic, and some statistics reported by a few other women’s help organisations, Dr O’Connor believes that 50 percent of Indian families living in Victoria have on-going family problems due to dowry demands. She had made a submission to the Royal Commission last year about enacting an anti-dowry legislation , on behalf of the Australasian Centre for Human Rights and Health. It has now been put forth as one of the 227 recommendations made by the Royal commission, and Premier Daniel Andrews has affirmed that each of the recommendations will be implemented in full.
According to the proposal, demanding a dowry will be equivalent to perpetrating family violence. Dowry has been defined as “gifts, given or taken in the context of a marriage, that are valued at multiple times the annual income of the families”.
How many multiples of annual income needs to be crossed, in order for it to be deemed as dowry is unclear. The anti-dowry legislation will apply to those people residing in Victoria, even if the wedding takes place overseas. The bride or her family will be able to lodge a case under the new legislation, any number of years after the wedding – there’s no set limit or deadline.
In this interview (in Punjabi) Manpreet K Singh has discussed the above issues with Dr Manjula O’Connor in great detail, including the potential of misuse of such a law, in case of a marital break up. Please join the conversation by posting your views here, or on our Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/SBSPunjabi
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