Dowry Abuse

We are experts in advocacy, training and cultural consultancy.

What is Dowry

Dowry is a cultural practice where a person transfers money, property, goods, or in the form of other gifts to their partner’s family before, upon or after marriage.

Dowry or some form of gift giving at the time of marriage is still prevalent in South Asia and Middle East communities. While dowry is now illegal in India, ethnic communities continue the practice overseas. In Australia, ‘gifts of monetary value or goods in kind’ are thinly disguised opportunities to continue the ‘tradition’.

The beneficiary of dowry tends to be in favour of the husband and/or his family’ while the giver is usually the wife and/or her family. Dowry can present under the guise of a ‘traditional’ practice, with the wife bringing along goods to the marriage as part of her trousseau.

What is Dowry Abuse

Dowry Abuse is ‘any act of violence or harassment associated with the giving or receiving of dowry at any time before, during or after the marriage’*. (*United Nations Division for the Advancement of Women 2009)

Abuse is perpetuated to elicit dowry or fulfil further demands for dowry at any time before, upon or after marriage.

Dowry abuse has been recognised as a significant issue in Australia, particularly in the context of domestic violence mainly within South Asian communities. It can be prevalent for example, where one partner is on a temporary spouse visa and is threatened with deportation unless the dowry needs are met.

Strong advocacy by ICSA has led to dowry now being commonly recognised and understood as a form of domestic violence, including in immigration-related processes.

Identifying dowry can be complex, but increased efforts are being made to educate frontline DFV works, case managers, legal professionals, clinicians and employers so they can identify and address dowry abuse. 

We have developed a bank of resources including training and workshops to increase awareness and education around dowry abuse.

Dowry Abuse

How we Help

ISCA is the pioneer in recognising and advocating against Dowry Abuse:

  • We are specialists in complex family violence and cultural abuse.
  • We have been developing awareness and preventative options since 2013.
  • Awareness training started since 2015, with 5 key workshops and tailored specialist ones, attended by over 300 participants.
  • Education programs with NSW Police, Bankstown Council, other Councils and service providers
  • Cultural consultant in Dowry Abuse videos other workshops.
  • Acknowledged expert in the practice of dowry abuse.
  • Training continues for government organisations, sector providers and the community.


Our Dowry Abuse Support

  • Specialised Capacity Building – Tailored Training, Workshops, Developing resources
  • Cultural Assessments – Immigration, Family Law
  • Client Advocacy – Cross Jurisdictional Matters
  • Community Education & Awareness –Event speakers
  • Advisory Panels – Policy Development
  • Advocacy – Social Justice
Dowry abuse support

Findings and Resources

Going forward, decisive action needs to be taken to prevent and curtail dowry abuse.

The resources and recommendations below are just a start.

Dowry Abuse Decision Tree to aid case workers, support services or clinical professionals in their client’s journey from dowry abuse recovery.

Key points:

  • Understanding CALD-related issues in support worker roles
  • Identifying dowry abuse
  • Establishing client safety
  • Mandatory reporting
  • Recovery pathway
  • Academic and Community reports launched
  • More research & data recommended
  • Improved awareness for better recognition
  • Legal or Regulatory Protection
  • Provisions to Recovery of payment
  • Must go beyond education into an action plan


    Dowry Advocacy Timeline


    The practice of dowry exposed in Australia and we began the journey of advocating against dowry abuse.

    Commenced developing awareness and preventative resources.


    We petitioned and launched the Anti Dowry campaign initiating open presentations and inviting community views.


    A milestone year with appeals to the Federal Government via Ed Husic, MP to recognise dowry as a cultural practice. An appeal to the Attorney General resulted in recognising dowry abuse and referring it to Immigration.

    Community newspapers began raising awareness of dowry abuse.


    The Victoral Royal Commission into Family Violence was launched.

    The Senate referred the practice of dowry and the incidence of dowry abuse in Australia to the Legal and Constitutional Affairs References Committee for enquiry.


    Begun in 2016, assessment changes to processing partner visas of abandoned spouses was developed, in consideration of dowry abuse being a part of domestic violence.


    Evidence to the Senate Enquiry.

    Victoria Legislation passes Family Violence Protection and other matters Bill in December.

    Dowry Abuse included in Family Violence


    Senate Enquiry Report results in 12 recommendation. Local Government moved a motion to implement recommendations.

    The Dowry Focus Group, NSW Police Dowry Abuse video project and NSW State Goverment Roundtable were initiated.


    Dowry Abuse Research Project initiated. Slowdown due to Covid.


    Research paper launched: Dowry Abuse & South Asian Populations.

    Dowry Abuse Education and Awareness Training resources developed

    Launch of Dowry Abuse awareness videos

    Guide to supporting people impacted by dowry abuse launched.

    Data collection and recommendations implementation ongoing.

    Partnerships & Collaboration

    We thank our partners and collaborators in advocating to end dowry abuse.

    • City of Parramatta
    • Western Sydney University
    • Settlement Services International (SSI)
    • NSW Police
    • Cumberland Council