Oz woman charges husband with dowry harassment

November 28th, 2007 - 6:24 pm ICT by admin  

New Delhi, Nov.28 (ANI): An Australian woman has become the first foreigner in India to report her husband to the police for harassing her for more dowry.
The charge is common in India where women are routinely abused and tortured by their husbands and in-laws for more money, but, according to a report in theage.com.au, police in Hyderabad were surprised when blonde Samantha Sewell, 30, walked through their door.
Samantha accused her husband, Mario Campbell, 32, of extorting 50,000 Australian dollars (Rupees 1.75 million) from her since 2001 when she married him, just two months after they first met. She fell in love with him at a Sydney casino.
“I loved him and kept hoping that if I gave him what he asked for, he would change. I just wouldn’t accept that he had married me for my money and not because he loved me,” Ms Sewell told The Age.
She says another Indian man was stalking her at the time she met Campbell.
Campbell, who was running a private detective business in Sydney despite having entered the country in 1996 on a student visa, comforted Ms Sewell, promising to protect her from the stalker. Having won her trust and love, he then pressed her to marry him, arguing that they would be separated if he failed to gain a permanent residency.
“He said he had done something for me about the stalker and now I had to do something for him. He told me he loved me and said we might never see each other if he had to leave Australia.”
Now, though, she is convinced that the “stalker”, a friend of Campbell, was merely part of a plot to scare her and push her into Campbell’s arms.
After their wedding, the couple travelled to India for a traditional Indian ceremony. Later, they left for London where they ran a web development business.
In London, Campbell used Sewell’s money and, she claims, was physically abusive on several occasions.
When they returned to India in 2004 she applied to the Australian High Commission for a permanent residency for him.
His application was rejected. “They hinted at something about him, about his past record and his criminal background and I went ‘Oh gosh’, but I still didn’t quite grasp what they meant,” she said.
The couple have been living separately since 2005, but MarioCampbell continued demanding money by telephone and email, she says.
On one occasion, she sent him money to buy two plots of land for her in Hyderabad, but discovered he had registered the land in his mother’s name.
Sewell went to Hyderabad three weeks ago after hearing that Campbell had remarried. At his home, Campbell and his mother badgered her for more money. When she said she would divorce him, he said that he would agree only if she paid him.
She then went to the police, charging him under the country’s draconian anti-dowry laws. The laws, designed to protect Indian women, assume a man is guilty until proven innocent. Campbell is in jail. He has told an Indian news channel that he is innocent.
“You have to live with someone to harass them over dowry,” he said. “I’m the one who’s helped her with money, not the other way round.”
The court case is likely to take years. The Indian legal system is clogged with 20 million pending cases. (ANI)

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