A mother from Mumbai has spoken of her grief and feelings of helplessness and has appealed for find justice for herself and her 7-year-old daughter after her bigamist husband Shannon Machado left her in limbo in India and fled to Europe.
In yet another example of arguably one of the most insidious forms of abuse faced by Indian women, Sweety Machado (nee Pereira) – a 37-year-old corporate executive – has been left high and dry in India while her IT executive husband Shannon Machado lives unhindered and unabashed with his second wife in Germany.
Adding insult to Ms Machado’s injuries, she days – in evidence seen by Indian Ladies in UK – her husband Shannon Leslie Machado and his “new wife” Sadaf have mounted a social media campaign accusing her of being a “stalker” and have also routinely threatened and intimidated Ms Machado in a bid to prevent her from taking action.
Bigamy is a criminal offence in India under the Indian Penal Code (well as in Germany) and is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and heavy fines but remains a widespread practice across the country and across all social classes, as is evident in this particular case.
Ms Machado approached Indian Ladies in UK in utter frustration to highlight the issue after her husband – whom she had married in an arranged marriage in Jan 2011 – completely cut off contact with her, the couple’s young daughter and his own family.
While a police FIR has been filed in India, it can only be enforced against Shannon Machado if he arrives back home to India which has – unsurprisingly and resolutely – refused to do.
This week authorities in Germany have taken up the matter at the behest of Ms Machado and officials at the Indian High Commission in Germany.
According to Ms Machado, her husband’s second wife is a German citizen – the reason, she says, her husband married her.
However, Mr Machado’s actions are bound to reflect negatively on any application he may make for citizenship in Germany.
According to documents and photographs seen by ILU, the marriage between Sweety and Shannon had taken place in 2ndJan 2011 after the couple’s respective parents had arranged the nuptials.
On the basis of the couple’s wedding album – and subsequent photos taken on their honeymoon in ‘God’s Own Country’ Kerala – everything appears to have gone as expected; so much so that a baby daughter, Kate, was born a little less than nine months later.
Sweety claims that soon after the marriage – following a familiar script for young techies from India – Shannon Machado travelled frequently between India and Germany with promises of “laying the ground work” for his wife and daughter’s move to Germany to join him.
That move however never truly materialized. Shannon returned to India for important events such as little Kate’s baptism and well as to organize German language tests for Sweety in preparation for her applying for her German visa.
On two occasions in 2015 and 2016 Sweety and her little daughter visited Germany and the family did what any young successful family would do – travel, post pictures on social media professing eternal love to each other.
But it was all a bizarre façade for Shannon, in 2018, began revealing his “other” life on Social Media – including the fact that he was married to a woman named Sadaf and had a young son, born the same year as his daughter with Sweety.
The revelations, unsurprisingly, came as a body blow for Sweety who had started to wonder just why it was that it was taking so long for her family to come together as Shannon Machado had promised all those years ago.
When she confronted her husband about it all, he brushed her off.
Stories have abounded for decades of how successful NRI’s – Non Resident Indians in highflying jobs in the west – have exploited the families of Indian girls eager to marry off their daughters to Indians in well paid jobs overseas.
Spousal abandonment – the practice of NRI men abandoning their dependent wives back home in India and cancelling their visas – is a widespread problem. As is bigamy.
According to statistics states such as Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh have seen alarming increases in the instances of bigamy over the last few years.
Perhaps more alarming is the fact that it is a practise that is “overlooked” by families – and subsequently women – who are far more concerned about being the centre of the “rumour mill” than to have to accept that their sons or sons-in-law is a bigamist.
This disinterest shown by families in turn has given perpetrators “free reign”, allowing them the confidence and “freedom” to brush off their partners when they have clearly been wronged.
In a touching but even more extraordinary twist, Mrs Machado continues to live with her bigamist husband’s parents who appear equally helpless as their daughter-in-law. They are said to be helping put Kate through school and care for her when Mrs Machado is at work.
Going by the numerous Facebook and other Social Media posts seen by Indian Ladies in UK, Shannon Machado has taken it a step further by “gaslighting” Sweety – by convincing his other wife that Sweety in fact is not of sound mind.
In a number of Facebook posts, Sadaf Machado tells her friends and colleagues that Sweety is a “stalker” and encouraging people to ignore Sweety’s desperate messages.
That came after a desperate and distraught Sweety, having been ignored by her husband and father of her child, attempted to contact their mutual friends and his work colleagues to get through to Shannon.
Perhaps most gallingly of all, Mr Machado has demanded a “DNA test” to prove little Kate’s paternity despite photos proving his presence at her birth and baptism.
Having run out of options and having failed to get through to Shannon, Sweety filed for an FIR and a “look out circular” was issued by responsible Indian authority meaning that Mr.Shannon Machado would be arrested if he attempts to return to the India.When contacted for comment Mr Machado bitterly complained about her wife’s actions since the revelations but refused to deny he was a bigamist.
In the meantime, Sweety Machado remains in limbo – just like countless other women – as she has no protection and support from her husband as well as her in-laws. She struggles to juggle work and raising a child and most glaringly unable to there by struggling to find appropriate remedy to support herself and her daughter for survival. Unable to move on with her life, struggling as a single working mother.