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Indian immigration attorney and author Anu Peshawaria says there is an underbelly to arranged marriages and Internet bride services that can endanger women and force them into a life they hadn’t bargained for.
“Imagine coming to the United States from India to marry a man that your parents have chosen for you. He is a citizen, but you are not. He informs you that he will be going out with other women while you cook and clean for him. He takes away your passport and gives you no money. You don’t speak the language and you don’t know whom to contact for help. That is one of the cases I have, and there are many more like that. It is heartbreaking,” says Peshawaria.
Shocked by her clients’ stories, Peshawaria began the nonprofit foundation SevA to help women trapped in horrendously abusive marriages in “foreign” countries—the United States among them.
Peshawaria is also launching “Safe Verification Services,” a special service for women immigrating to the United States that will investigate the background, marital history, and financial and possible criminal records of prospective grooms.
Her book, The Immigrant’s Dream, provides critical information about what a reader should do if trapped in a bad marriage in a foreign country, with no idea where to turn or what to do. It covers information such as which hospitals will take patients with no paperwork, shelters for homeless women and children, and nonprofits that will assist with thingssuch as translation services and filling out paperwork. The book also discusses specific cases, such as:
- A man who had married several women from varying countries, had children with them, and then had the mothers deported, keeping the children in the U.S.
- A case where the supreme courts in two countries awarded custody of the children to different parents.
- The lack of leverage embassies have to help women stuck in abusive marriages.
- How many women opt to stay in violent and abusive marriages rather than return to their own country without their children.
Peshawaria has made it her life’s work to provide women from all over the world with the education and resources they need.
“So many women think they have nowhere to turn,” says Peshawaria, “but there are places if you know where to find them. If I can help one woman avoid a terrible situation where she may lose her children, I will feel as if I have accomplished my mission in life.”
Peshawaria comes from a family of achievers. Her sister, Kiran Badi, is a famous officer of the law in India and was featured in an award-winning documentary. Anu Peshawaria herself once represented India at Wimbledon as a young tennis star. But in spite of her extensive travels and rich life experiences, nothing could have prepared her for the heartbreaking stories of abuse and misery she encountered when she became an immigration attorney.
Peshawaria, who has been practicing immigration law since 1983, represents has a nearly all-female clientele from many countries including China, Fiji, Russia, Bangladesh, and India.
SevA, Peshawaria’s nonprofit foundation, will be holding monthly workshops pertaining to various immigration issues, from driving laws to insurances to domestic abuse.
Workshop: Tuesday, July 28, 6:30-8 p.m. SevA Offices, 46560 Fremont Blvd,, #205, Fremont. (510) 353-0102. www.anuattorney.com.