Fake marriage is on the rise as young Indian men are offering their female counterpart an all-expenses-paid education in Canadian colleges or universities, in return for marrying them and travelling with them to Canada.
The aim behind this is to gain secret entry into developed countries, where these young men are able to work and enjoy the social securities offered in that country as the spouse of the foreign student, without having to go through more difficult visa application processes. The offers are made through newspaper adverts in India.
“Families are searching for matches to get their daughters or sons abroad. And the most successful pathway to Canada is through international-student routes. It’s an easy way to get immigration to Canada,” says Shinder Purewal, a public university professor and a former Canadian citizenship court judge.
Hindustan Times reported there is a “flourishing matrimony market for ‘women’ who can help their ‘husbands’” gain status as the spouse of a foreign student in Western countries.
In one typical advert in a Punjabi-local newspaper in India, Ajit goes:
“Jatt Sikh, boy, twenty-four (24) years old, 5 feet 10 inches, needs lady with IELTS band 7. Marriage fake or real. Boy’s family will pay all expenses.”
While another newspaper advertisement Jagbani says:
“Barbar Sikh, twenty-four (24), 5 feet 8 inches. Concluded Grade 12. Searching for BSc or IELTS pass girl. Boy’s family will pay all expense to go to Canada.”
In these adverts, a 20-something male, or his parent, is proposing a contractual marriage of convenience to ladies with the above qualifications to enter a Western university abroad, such as the IELTS. In return, all of the girl’s costs of studying in the said school will be covered by the male side.
Canada is a particular favourite destination due to its lenient reputation towards international students and its relaxed restrictions on these students coming with their spouses.
If along the way, a female student fails to obtain a study permit or student visa after her “groom” has paid her, things sometimes turn awful, and in some cases, has resulted in cases of domestic violence.
“The girl obtained Band 5.5 in IELTS, but couldn’t get the study permit. She met us and filed a complaint under the Domestic Violence Act,” says Paramjit Kaur Landran, a Punjab State women’s commission chairman.
“During mediation, we discovered that the groom’s family was putting pressure on her to return the money.”
Both sexes (men and women) tango in this growing industry.
Landran claim “even parents of girls are using IELTS scores to get grooms for their daughters”. The girls get sponsorship to study lucrative courses abroad, the boys get to live in Canada and legally work up to forty (40) hours a week. And one day, they even acquire permanent residence status.
Renuka Dagar, who heads the department of gender studies in an Indian institute, argues this is a new form of female slavery in the traditionally patriarchal South Asian country.
“In places such as Hoshiarpur in the Doaba belt, we discovered one of the reasons for better sex ratio is females can take their real brothers abroad. Owing to such avenues such as nursing, it is easier for girls to get jobs overseas,” Dagar says.
“Even government data reveals more girls in Punjab get to finish senior secondary than boys. Also, more girls pursue university education. So, daughters are being educated as an investment. It is a new dimension to female slavery in a highly patriarchal system.”