Australia’s problem with dowry is around the larger number of women who arrive on partner visas and are under the total control of their partner. In referrals, we see such women subjected to family violence because of dowry abuse. As such ICSA started the anti-dowry campaign in 2014.
Dowry in Australia is not illegal, therefore it can be practiced with impunity. In the majority of cases women are the victims, but it is observed to happen in reverse with men as the victims. The abuse or outcome is no different for either gender. it is all about the partner who has the control and the exent to which they will use it. The key issues with dowry in Australia are in these areas:
- Spousal visa; the Australian resident makes demands to allow the other partner residency to go through. In reality the closer the time gets to final grant of residency, the demands get higher. Once residency is gained there will be no leverage to demand dowry, so frequently it is observed there is separation and the non-resident is left to their own devices to stay or return home.
- Remote Demands: it is much easier to make demands in Australia to be received back home, this way there is no dowry abuse in Australia and no dowry crime back home.
- Bidding Value: also known as the asking price. Permanent residency has a value in dowry, the value goes up in line with education, employment, assets. Some call this the return on investment of raising a son.
- Dowry Marriages: Australian residents marry only to acquire dowry, quickly dispensing with the mariage as soon as it is considered the opportunity has run dry. These residents marry mulitple times as it is seen to be a ‘get rich quick’ scheme.
- Honour Based Violence: honour based violence around dowry is where ‘community’ joins the family either to harass the victim to extort more dowry. It may also be to keep any complaints at bay to avoid legal action back home.
- People Trafficking: the vast sums of money that can be part of a bidding process for dowry works in exactly the same way as people trafficking. The person wanting a visa will pay a significant ‘dowry’.