File photo of Indian-origin former Canadian MP Ruby Dhalla.
Indian-origin former Canadian parliamentarian Ruby Dhalla has kick-started a campaign to help women victims of fraud marriages in Punjab.
The campaign is being spearheaded by 'Dreams for You', an NGO, which focuses on helping, supporting and empowering women who have been "victimised, impacted and affected with the growing phenomena of fraud marriages".
Dhalla has also brought out a fashion label "Ruby Red", comprising gowns, kurtas, dresses and kaftans, whose sale proceeds would be channeled towards the charity.
Dhalla, who is the first Sikh Parliamentarian in Canada, says she used to deal with a lot of cases from the Indian community there concerning fraud marriages and during a visit to India had met an "unexpectedly huge" number of people who turned up to meet her.
"I have been working on this issue for many years in Canada. I remember in 2004 a lot of women from ethnic communities and the Indian community began coming to me with such issues. When I came to Punjab in 2009, I asked them to organise a function to meet these women. I thought only about 15 to 20 women would show up and we would discuss the issue. To my shock I remember walking into the event with hundreds of women lined up outside and other thousands inside that little community centre. They were in tears and pleading with me to help them," Dhalla said during her recent visit in New Delhi.
The former member of the Canadian House of Commons said it was about that time when she decided to help the women.
"These women have so little. They are neither here nor there. They are not divorced, they are not married. They are just living in a sense of abandonment. And it is difficult for these women to live with their in-laws or even at their parents' home," Dhalla said.
Through her NGO, Dhalla says she wants to raise awareness about issues like registration of marriages, development of an NRI wing, imparting skill training and proving legal assistance to those affected.
"Besides raising awareness on the issue, one of the elements that I advocate for is the need to develop an NRI wing where issues like this would go to and where people can come forward and there is a sense of collectivity," she said.