A social worker says there is a need for a special immigration visa category to allow abandoned Indian brides as dowry abuse is on the rise.
Jeet Suchdev, who runs the Bhartiya Samaj Charitable Trust, says he is currently helping about half a dozen Indian wives who have been tricked into returning to India and then abandoned by their husbands who have been paid "tens of thousands" in dowry.
Although it is not know exactly how many dowry related cases there are in New Zealand, Suchdev said anecdotal evidence suggests it is widespread and increasing.
Khushbu Pinjani, 32, who entered into an arranged marriage with an Auckland permanent resident she met on an Indian website has been fighting for a visa to return to New Zealand for more than a year.
Pinjani, who came to New Zealand in April 2017, claimed that she was tricked by her husband into returning to Delhi in November that year after enduring months of abuse.
Suchdev said Pinjani was one of possibly hundreds of dowry abuse victims who had been abandoned by their New Zealand husbands in India.
Dowry is a centuries old custom which involves a woman's family paying her new husband's family for marriage. Although illegal in India, it is still widely practised.
Suchdev said often the initial dowry demand was upwards of $50,000 and then further "extortions" are made until the woman's family have nothing more to give.
"When that happens the woman is useless to the husband, so they will find ways and means to get them back to India and then abandon them there," Suchdev said.
He said there needed to be a special immigration visa category to allow abandoned dowry abuse victims to return to New Zealand.
"These women are victims and they need to be allowed back into the country to at least settle their personal matters," Suchdev added.
Immigration New Zealand operations support manager Michael Carley confirmed Pinjani's application for a visitor visa was declined in July.
"Her application was declined because she did not meet immigration instructions," Carley said.
"INZ's specific concerns were that she did not provide any details about her current occupation. She also did not provide sufficient evidence of funds."
Carley said base on this evidence, the agency was not satisfied that Pinjani was a bona fide applicant for a visitor visa and that her visit here would be a temporary one.
"For privacy reasons INZ cannot comment on any matters relating to her relationship with her partner," Carley added.
Pinjani, a dentist, said her family arranged her marriage to her husband who claimed to be an accountant with an international hotel chain and was working towards becoming a chartered accountant.
They got married in January 2017 back in India and travelled to Auckland in April.
"When I arrived, I was shocked that he was not an accountant and he didn't have a job," she said.
Her family was pressured to give more dowry, she claimed, including giving the husband's family gold and a car.
She said her family paid more than $83,000 for the wedding and spent $66,000 in gifts, which included cash.
Pinjani said the abuse started because they felt the dowry was insufficient, and things got worse when she fell pregnant.
"He said he didn't have money to take care of me and the baby, and I was forced to abort my baby when I was two months pregnant," she said.
"Then one day, he lovingly asked me to go to India and that he will come back later to tell me what to do next."
But her husband never went back to India and blocked all contact with her and her family.
"All my belongings are still in New Zealand, and I need to be back there fight my husband for all the injustice that has been done to me," Pinjani.
"I am begging the New Zealand authorities to let me go back, I don't know what else I can do."