A man slapped his wife of four months, dragged her by the hair and threatened to kill her because he was under pressure from his Indian family to extract a $ 20,000 dowry payment from her, a Queensland court heard.
- Couple's marriage arranged in India and man's family demanded dowry payment, court heard
- Prosecutor said offenses grounded in India's patriarchal culture
- Man's lawyer told court her client was familiar with Australian cultural values
The man, who can not be named for legal reasons, pleaded guilty in the Maroochydore Magistrates Court to attack, assault occasioning bodily harm and breaking a domestic violence order.
Magistrate Maxine Baldwin told the man that he would have had "living under a rock" not to know that Australia was "very serious about domestic violence".
She said she wanted to impose a sentence that would be a deterrent and show that Australia "has had a gutful" of domestic violence.
The court was told that the couple were brought together in an arranged marriage in India after knowing each other less than a month.
"I just went up there [India] and got married and came back within 28 days, "the man told the court.
But only four months into the arrangement there were problems.
The court heard the man, an Australian citizen, brought his new wife back to south-east Queensland, but that the couple were from different religions.
They were living with one of his relatives, and his family in India were calling their $ 10,000 share of a $ 20,000 bridal dowry.
Family violence support services:
- 1800 Respect national helpline 1800 737 732
- Women's Crisis Line 1800 811 811
- Men's Referral Service 1300 766 491
- Lifeline (24 hour crisis line) 131 114
- Relationships Australia 1300 364 277
Police prosecutor Sergeant Phillip Stephens told the court that over a week the man threw a cup of tea on the floor, slapped his wife, pulled her by the hair, hitting her head on the bed frame and threatened her to kill.
"The offending grounded in cultural undertones of a patriarchal system that is not tolerated in the Australian society," Sergeant Stephens said.
"Incidents arose due to what he claims are monies owed to him or his family are part of a promised dowry payment."
He said the man deserved to be sentenced to at least nine months in jail.
"This is not in keeping with the values that we share in the Australian society … he must know that such behaviors will not be tolerated by courts, no matter what your race creed or clan."
'It's not a cultural issue'
The man's lawyer Anna Smith told The Maroochydore Court her client had lived in Australia for a number of years, was familiar with Australian values and that her culture was not the cause of the assaults.
"Yes, there was an arranged marriage." It was not the reason, or any reason why he was found himself assaulting the complainant, "Ms Smith told the court.
She insisted her client had no pre-criminal history and had good references from her employer.
"He had a new wife, pressure from families externally, he's very remorseful for the way he dealt with it but it was not because he thought it was right, culturally, to do so," she said.
Magistrate Baldwin said she accepted arranged marriages and dowries were Indian traditions but that she was not in a position to judge those cultural traditions.
"The reality is this is not over a dowry thing – the cultural aspect of that most Australians would find the abhorrent," she said.
"If you say he's an Australian he's been living here, is not it acting on to say, 'I'm in Australia, we live here, we do not collect dowries for women anymore'?"
She sentenced the man to six months in prison, suspended for two years, ordering him to also take a domestic violence prevention program.