Domestic Abuse Helpline

24 hour domestic abuse helpline

Transnational Marriage Abandonment

The deliberate abandonment or ‘stranding’ of a woman in her country of origin by a husband who returns and remains in England or Wales. This act has recently been recognised as a form of domestic abuse.

The process leading to abandoning a woman is calculated, it follows a pattern of domestic abuse and coercive control

  • It may include dowry abuse; whereby when a husband has been given a dowry from his wife’s family he leaves her in her country of origin
  • If a woman comes to England or Wales on a spousal visa, once the visa is nearing its expiration date, the couple return to her country of origin, which he leaves and she is left without the means of returning.
  • Women have been tricked into returning to their country of origin with their husbands, children and sometimes extended family members for prolonged holidays – their passports and other legal documents are retained by their husbands who then abandon them
  • Men can engage in legal proceedings against their wives, at which the wife is unable to be represented. If a divorce takes place, the ‘stranded’ woman is unable to access a financial settlement, gain custody of her children and can be further discriminated against for being divorced.

Impact of Transnational Marriage Abandonment:

  • The woman has no matrimonial or residence rights in England or Wales
  • If there are children, they maybe abandoned with their mother or
  • If there are children, they maybe separated from their mother, remaining with their father
  • Women (and children) who are ‘stranded’ are often left without economic & financial resources
  • Once abandoned women remain married but without rights to support and protection
  • ‘Stranded’ women have reported being at risk of violence, exploitation, destitution and social stigma from communities in their country of origin
  • ‘Stranded’ women are discriminated against as not being in the UK means that they do not have the right to apply to return or to seek indefinite leave to remain 

Further information:

Information and support can be found at the Southall Black Sisters website.

Information on the 2017 campaign can be found here.

This link shows a ten minute film for the Victoria Derbyshire programme that was first shown in September 2016.