A woman who came from Patna in Bihar to Virginia in the United States this March after marriage says she is in complete shock, shaken, and scared for her safety.
Her husband is a man from Bihar on an F-1 visa, given to international students, and works with Freddie Mac in Virginia.
On June 15, the woman called police and pleaded with the officers to take her to a safe place. “He is a psychopath,” the woman told indica News about her husband, Shivam.
Shivam did not respond to calls and text messages from indica News for comment on the accusations against him.
The woman was rescued on June 15 by police, and managed to find shelter at a relative’s place in Seattle. She wrote to the Indian Embassy and the Indian consulate in San Francisco seeking help.
She detailed the abuse she suffered both in the letter, as well as in conversation with indica News.
She said her ordeal started from Delhi airport, where he instructed a security officer to “ensure she doesn’t run away”.
Life in the US started with constant threat of deportation “whenever he wants,” she said.
She said she was not allowed to go out.
“Many times he would check… if I am using any tools to avoid pregnancy. I was always with him, not allowed to the washroom,” she said. “He would lock my phone in his suitcase and take the key to the washroom while using the washroom so that I am not able to speak to anyone.”
She continued: “I was not allowed to talk to my friends and family. He told me that I will be allowed to speak to my family only if my father pay his family dowry amounting to Rs 50 lakh [$67,417].”
Her father-in-law, the woman said, is a doctor in Patna.
“He too threatened me and said your life would be miserable; he has doctor friends in the US,” the woman said.
“His father told me one day, ‘If you take divorce, you know how people treat you in India… and your family reputation will be gone,” she said.
She said her husband used to threaten her that he would commit suicide and would write a note accusing her and make her life miserable. “He also threatened that if I don’t get pregnant within a month he would make my life miserable.”
She said on June 15 she was talking to the domestic violence helpline.
“He saw me talking and brought a kitchen knife and started throwing things… I called the police, he snatched the phone. But luckily they [police] tracked the phone and reached the home. They talked to my uncle also. I had not a single penny, so my uncle booked the flight and cab,” she said.
“The officers were worried about my safety so asked to take basics and leave and so I was not able to take the belongings, not even my Aadhaar card and Indian driving license. The officers dropped to the airport and asked to not to talk for a week to him [her husband]
“I was so scared and shivering,” she said.
She says her husband is threatening her, sending false messages to plant evidence against her, and that she doesn’t know how to survive and fight against her husband legally since attorneys ask for money.
Dr T V Nagendra Prasad, India’s consul general in San Francisco, told indica News that the woman had been connected to two organizations that work for the welfare of distressed women, Narika and Maitri.
“But somehow she was not comfortable there. Also, we have connected her to the Bihar Foundation,” Consul General Nagendra Prasad told indica News.
The woman pointed out that Maitri and Narika are not based in Seattle so have limited help to offer though they gave them the number of an attorney in Virginia. “How can I afford an attorney when they ask $300 for one meeting?” she asked.
Consul General Nagendra Prasad said: “She wanted a ticket to go back to India. So we connected to Bihar Foundation and they said would be happy to provide the ticket.”
Asked who would pay the attorney fees for her, the consul general said: “Sometimes we provide legal aid based on the case. In this scenario, she wanted to go back. “We offer financial aid to a person in need based on several conditions.”
He said that she is an educated woman and may have changed her mind about going to India because for the last two-three days she did not contact the consulate.
Rajiv Kumar Sinha, chairman of Bihar Foundation of USA, told indica News that he along with Deepak Sharma, secretary of the foundation, contacted the woman after the consulate told them about her.
“It was quite obvious from the conversation that the girl was in much distress because of the situations created by her husband and was in immediate need of assistance,” Sinha said.
“We assured to assist her all the way through till she reaches India — as per her wish — by arranging her flights and all other necessary things,” Sinha said. “We are also in touch with the Indian consulate in San Francisco. This is one of the unique situations our foundation has came across. And the foundation is always ready to help, support anyone, especially people of Indian diaspora.”
Puneet Ahluwalia, executive director at South Asia Minorities Alliance Foundation, who is looking after the case, told indica News that the woman was running from pillar to post. “No one was willing to take her case, that was sad,” he said,
SAMAF is a US nonprofit that represents interests and issues relating to religious and ethnic minorities living in South Asia in the US.
“I am a political worker but sometimes you have to stop and think, she is someone’s daughter and sister, and any concerned citizen will do that. No daughter, or sister, woman or even man should not feel helpless when you leave your country to live with your chosen companion or by yourself,” said Ahluwalia.