Indian woman in distress needs help!

This is a story of an Indian woman, who is fighting a lone battle in New York City… pregnant and under extreme duress.

Sometime last week, we (my husband and I) got a phone call from India from the mother of this woman, to request for sponsorship, so that she can come to the US and take the baby to be born back to India as the State has declared that the “baby to be born” will be taken away by the State for foster care. The mother of the baby has been declared by the doctors as being incapable (in her current state) of caring for it. The father of the child has declared that he will not support it!

Since we did not know the lady (mother) personally, we decided to investigate the matter a little further before sponsoring. More investigation unveiled a story, which goes as follows.

NOTE: By the time this article is published, the Baby might have already been brought into this world.

Shanti – Imaginary name for the story to protect the woman’s identity for now.

Shanti, was married to a man in the US almost ten years ago. She was a simple girl, who had a degree in Philosophy, but was not very street-wise. Anyone who has come to this country as a dependent will be able to relate how vulnerable and helpless a feeling it can be. To add to that, if the husband isn’t sympathetic (or worse, abusive), life can become living hell!

Shanti was abused by her husband at many instances emotionally and physically for not being smart and living up to his expectations. In the midst of all these, she had a baby in the US. When her first born was three month old she traveled to India with her child and husband. And one day, without informing his wife, Shanti’s husband went back to the US taking away her passport, greencard and credentials. He also took away with him their child’s passport. She waited for almost three years in India, with no contact from her husband. Finally Shanti’s family filed a police complaint, that Shanti’s and her child’s important documents were missing.
As the police enquiries proceeded Shanti’s husband got involved. And out of fear, Shanti’s husband contacted Shanti and pleaded her to get back to his life.

In an Indian society a “divorce” is still considered a taboo by many. Although Shanti was reluctant to go back to US and join her husband, she was convinced by her family to reconcile with her husband.

They started living with each other and Shanti got pregnant to have their second child. Although they lived together Shanti’s husband did not lose any opportunities to provoke Shanti. He was never happy with her and all along wanted to divorce her. He thought she was mentally abnormal and her family wanted to dump her on him, as they did not want to take up her responsibility. Almost five months into her pregnancy, they had a domestic fight! Shanti retaliated against her husband and he was hurt. He called the police and got Shanti arrested. She was arrested by NY City PD and a felony case was charged against her. Shanti’s husband did not inform her family India about this incident!

As Shanti did not have any one in the US, the State provided her a defense lawyer. When the lawyer spoke to Shanti in the lock up, she realized that Shanti was not in a mentally capable state. She got her evaluated by doctors, and doctors found that Shanti is “Schizophrenic”. For almost five months she has remained in police custody but in the psychiatric ward and is undergoing "treatment". Shanti is due to have her baby on 17 April, 2007 . In the midst of all these, Shanti’s husband went to the hospital, served her the divorce papers and also told that he was not going to take up the responsbility for the child to be born. Now the State has decided that Shanti is not capable of caring for the child, so the child will go to the State unless someone from her family steps forward to claim it.

The lawyer, being a good samaritan and a good human being, contacted Shanti’s mother and asked her to come to the US, so that she can claim the child. In the interim the child will be put up in “Hale” house. The lawyer is going to organize for two weeks worth of lodging and food for the mother. After that she will have to make her own arrangements. The process to take the baby back to India may take almost two months.

After Shanti is fit enough to go back to police custody, she will go through the felony trial. When her felony trial is settled, depending on the judge’s verdict, she may have to serve time in prison (or will be freed). After that Shanti will be homeless, and will need to go through divorce trial.

We are now trying our best to find out how we can help Shanti’s mom when she come to NY City (Queen’s area) and and then help Shanti so that she can get some justice!

1) Is there any organization in NY City (Queen’s area) who can help Shanti’s mom? Who can arrange for her lodging and food, and help Shanti’s mom to get all the paperwork ready to take the new born child back to India.

2) Any organization and lawyer (pro-bono) who can handle Shanti’s divorce case to get her some justice and get child support and maintenance?  

3) We welcome additional information that will help this case.

Note: The fact written here are author’s understanding of the situation and not to be used for any legal purposes. Facts needs to be verified with lawyer and others directly involved in this case before any legal actions.

Editor’s note: Please email [email protected] or contact the author by posting a comment here if you can provide some information to help in this regard.

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