Source: Inewsone.com , New Delhi, June 19
(IANS) Increasing number of child abductions by parents among the Indian diaspora has become a cause of concern as India is yet to join the internationalconvention on the issue, a British minister has said.
‘The cases where a parent abducts their child and takes it away to India are problematic because India does not have laws to deal with parental child abduction,’ British Minister for Equalities Lynne Featherstone said here.
The minister urged the Indian government to accede to the UN Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.
The British minister was here on a three-day visit to India June 15-17 to seek greater collaboration between the two countries on the issue of violence against women and gender equality issues.
According to Featherstone, the UK government receives at least one complaint per month of alleged abduction of a child by a parent of Indian origin. There are about eight such cases currently being investigated, the minister said.
The children were abducted by one of the parents and brought to India in order to gain the advantage in matrimonial and child custody disputes.
Child abduction cases by parents are high in countries which have a large population of people of Indian origin such as the UK, the US and Canada.
About 70 children were abducted by parents of Indian origin in the UK in the past eight years, according to a report.
The US State Department’s Office of Child Issues, which helps in child abduction cases, is currently working on more than 100 cases of children taken to India without the consent of the parent left behind. The State Department has said that there are few remedies if a child is abducted to India.
There are more unresolved cases of parental child abduction from the US to India than any other country with the exception of Mexico.
About 85 countries have ratified the 1980 Hague Convention on Parental Child Abduction. Under the convention, member countries undertake to return children abducted by a parent to their homes under the jurisdiction of the courts in the home country.
Parental child abduction has become one of the many issues that have been added to the agenda for inter-governmental discussions with visiting delegations from the US, Britain and Canada.
Several NGOs and activists in India and abroad have urged the government to accede to the Hague Convention.
On the occasion of Father’s Day (June 20), a Bangalore-based non-governmental organisation, Children’s Rights Initiative for Shared Parenting (CRISP), has demanded that India ratify the Hague Convention and reform family law in India.
California-based Rakshak Foundation has also appealed to the union government to safeguard children’s rights and make parental abduction a cognizable, non-bailable crime.
Abduction of a child by one parent violates the child’s right to live in the security of the familiar home and prevents access to both parents. More and more child custody and abduction cases are landing in Indian courts relating to foreign citizens as well as non resident Indians (NRIs).
The Supreme Court has ruled recently that Indian courts have jurisprudence on child custody cases even if the child is a citizen of a foreign country. The courts apply the principle of best interest of the child, taking a foreign court decree as only one of the factors for deciding on the custodial dispute.
There have been occasions when the father had taken away the child from the country of residence, gone to India and left the child with his grandparents while he flew to work in a third country.
At other times, it is the woman who took the child on the pretext of visiting India.
Many abducted children are told that the other parent is dead or has gone away. Often one parent tries to poison the child’s mind to the other parent, which often causes psychological and emotional problems for the child.
‘Children in such cases are voiceless victims and their right to be connected to both biological parents needs to be protected,’ according to the Rakshak Foundation.
Often child custody cases lead to the child being deprived of the love, affection and care of one parent.
‘Joint custody and shared parenting are the best solutions for normal development of the child,’ the foundation said.