What is dowry abuse?
According to the Department of Social Services, dowry abuse is considered any act of coercion, violence or harassment associated with the giving or receiving of dowry at any time before, during or after marriage. Dowry-related abuse commonly involves claims that dowry was not paid and coercive demands for further money or gifts from a woman and her family. This abuse may take the form of retaliation or shaming against the woman’s family in their home country.
The practice of dowry risks perpetuating a culture of ownership or control of women and runs against the cause of equality.
– The Senate Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs Report 2019
If you are on a visa, you can still get help
A partner, family members or other people in the community cannot threaten your right to live in Australia.
If you hold a temporary Partner visa (subclass 309 or 820) or a Prospective Marriage visa (subclass 300) and experience dowry-related family violence, there are family violence provisions in Australia’s migration laws to allow you to continue with your permanent Partner visa (subclass 100 or 801) application.
Where can I go for help?
If this is happening to you, there are a variety of culturally sensitive services that you can access for support.
inTouch provides person-centred, integrated, culturally responsive family violence services to migrant and refugee women across Victoria. Their staff are highly experienced in working with women from diverse cultural backgrounds.
inTouch has bilingual and bicultural staff and is able to offer services to clients in over 20 languages. Appropriate interpreting services are used for all other languages, be sure to mention you require an interpreter when you call.
inTouch also has an in-house legal centre that provides legal advice and assistance to clients who are receiving their family violence case management support.
If you would like to seek help from inTouch, call 1800 755 988 or visit InTouch’s web site.
This is Australia’s national sexual assault, family and domestic violence counselling service. It provides free, confidential telephone and online counselling and information. Counsellors will listen to you, answer questions and can refer you to other support services in your local area.
Call 1800 737 732 or go to the 1800RESPECT website at www.1800RESPECT.org.au.
Further information on family violence and visas, forced marriage and human trafficking is on the Department of Home Affairs website at www.homeaffairs.gov.au and search for “forced marriage”.
Please note that these are not crisis services. If you feel unsafe or threatened or fearful for yourself, a child or family member, please call 000 or Safe Steps 1800 015 188.
About inTouch Multicultural Centre Against Family Violence
Recognised as a specialist family violence service with a focus on providing support and information to culturally diverse women, their children and perpetrators of family violence, inTouch is a critical piece in Victoria’s family violence response system. They offer services and programs across the family violence continuum, from prevention and crisis intervention, through to recovery.
Since 1984, inTouch has helped over 18,000 women experiencing family violence. Their inLanguage and inCulture case management, onsite legal centre and migration agent, is what makes inTouch unique and vital to helping address the specific needs of refugee and migrant communities experiencing family violence.
inTouch released a position paper on dowry abuse following the recent Senate Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs’ Report into the practice of dowry and dowry abuse in Australia.