Young Indian men are offering their female peers an all-expenses paid education in Canadian universities or colleges, in return for marrying them and travelling with them to the country, Vancouver Sun reports.
The motive behind this is to gain backdoor entry into developed countries, where these young men are able to work and benefit from the social securities offered there as the spouse of the foreign student, without having to go through more rigorous visa application processes. The offers are made via newspaper ads in India.
“Families are looking for matches to get their sons or daughters abroad. And the most successful route to Canada is through international-student channels. It’s an easy way to get immigration,” says Shinder Purewal, a Kwantlen Polytechnic University political scientist and a former Canadian citizenship court judge.
Hindustan Times reports there is a “booming matrimony market for ‘brides’ who can help their ‘grooms'” gain status as the spouse of an international student in Western countries.
In one typical ad in a Punjabi-language newspaper in India, Ajit, goes:
“Jatt Sikh, boy, 24 years old, 5 feet 10 inches, needs girl with IELTS band 7. Marriage real or fake. Boy’s side will pay all expenses.”
While another from the newspaper Jagbani says:
“Barbar Sikh, 24, 5 feet 8 inches. Finished Grade 12. Looking for BSc or IELTS pass girl. Boy’s side will pay all expenses to go to Canada.”
In these ads, a 20-something male, or his parents, is proposing a contractual marriage of convenience to girls with the qualifications to enter a university in Western countries, such as the International English Language Testing System (IELTS). In return, all of the girl’s expenses to study in the said school will be covered by the male.
Canada is a particular favourite due to its welcoming reputation towards foreign students and its relaxed restrictions on these students bringing their spouses along.
If along the way, a female student fails to get a student visa after her “groom” has paid her, things sometimes turn nasty, and in some cases, result in cases of domestic violence.
“The girl had Band 5.5 in IELTS, but could not get the student visa. She approached us and filed a complaint under the Domestic Violence Act,” Punjab State Women’s Commission chairman Paramjit Kaur Landran told Hindustan Times.
“During mediation, we found out the groom’s family was putting pressure on her to return the money.”
— HT Punjab (@HTPunjab) August 2, 2016
Both sexes tango in this growing industry.
Landran says “even parents of girls are using IELTS scores to fetch grooms”. The girls get sponsorship to study sought-after courses abroad, the boys get to live in Canada and legally work up to 40 hours a week. And one day, they even get permanent residence status.
Rainuka Dagar, who heads the department of gender studies in Chandigarh’s Institute of Development and Communication (IDC), argues this is a new form of female subjugation in the traditionally patriarchal South Asian nation.
“In districts such as Hoshiarpur in the Doaba belt, we have found one of the reasons for better sex ratio is daughters can take their real brothers abroad. Owing to more avenues such as nursing, it is easier for girls to find jobs overseas,” Dagar says.
“Even government data shows more girls in Punjab complete senior secondary than boys. Also, more girls pursue higher education. So, daughters are being educated as an investment. It is a new dimension to female subjugation in a highly patriarchal system.”