One of Britain’s largest Indian community organisation held protest in London’s iconic Piccadilly Circus, highlighting the plight of some of the first generation migrant Indian women in the UK who are abused and exploited by their spouses and let down by the system.
Members of Indian Ladies in UK (ILUK), a 14,000-strong women’s group made up of first generation female migrants from India, braved the December cold and became “homeless” for one night, sleeping rough on the frigid streets of London on December 23.
They wanted to shed light on the plight of scores of women who have been left physically, mentally and emotionally abused and destitute by their spouses.
Among the protesters was a woman from Gujarat whose British-Indian husband took her to India in mid-2016 only to abandon her and kidnap her children and take them to his parent’s home in Madagascar.
The woman who was identified as ‘C’ was left stranded in Delhi without money or her travel documents.
She soon made contact with ILUK which helped organise a passport and an airline ticket back to Britain where she is currently pursuing legal action against her husband and his family.
ILUK and its members have also organised accommodation and counselling for her as well as representing her in court.
Another woman from Hyderabad, returned to London in October after a visit to India to find that she had been locked out of her home by her IT executive husband who claimed that he had obtained a divorce through the “triple talaq” system of Islamic divorce.
She was left homeless before she made contact with ILUK who organised help for her.
Many of the victims often have little knowledge about how to find help in what is, for many, a largely alien country and are often turned away by police and local councils with the excuse that they have “no recourse to public funds”, a reference to their residency status in the UK.
Poonam Joshi, founder of ILUK, said, “These are young women who come here with great hopes and dreams and are left in the lurch by the very people who they trust the most their partners.
“I firmly believe that we as a community need to come together to help, support and empower these women so they can become better integrated into their new homes.
This protest is a way of highlighting the work that we do and appeal to both the Indian and British governments to do more to protect these young women.”
Founded in August 2015, the ILUK group was created with the intention of providing a social media platform for first generation migrant women from India to connect, network interact with each other and to empower them.