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Home > India > News > Report

Bengaluru: Professionals to highlight joint custody of children in rally

Vicky Nanjappa in Bengaluru | June 13, 2008 14:10 IST

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It is said that the best parent is both parents. However, there is a general concern that in matters pertaining to the custody of a child, it is always the mother who has the upper hand.

Although the love of a mother is extremely important for the child, an aspect being forgotten by courts and lawmakers is the role the father has to play in the upbringing of a child.

On June 14, around 150 persons including IT professionals, businessmen, doctors and scientists will take out a rally to point out the ill-effects of parental alienation on children due to single parent families on account of divorce or separation.

The idea is to tell the world that children need the care of both parents and are in a better frame of mind when they are cared by both the parents.

Those involved in the protest which is organised by Children's Rights Initiative for Shared Parenting, a non governmental organisation founded by a group of citizens who recognise the seriousness of "parental alienation" and its effects on children, will also tell the world that both parents should be actively involved in parenting of the child even if they are divorced or separated.

Kumar Jagirdhar, the ex-husband of cricketer Anil Kumble's [Images] wife Chetana, will take part in this rally at Bengaluru on Saturday.

Jagirdhar says he started this NGO as there was a desperate need of a forum to address the pain that fathers undergo when they lose a child in a custody battle.

He says he himself is fighting a battle for the custody of his child. I do agree that the mother is the best person to take  care of a child, but the question of gender bias should be eradicated in such matters. The father does have an equal role to play.

As per the United Nations convention, a child has to have access to both the parents. The courts have to encourage this and visitation rights should not be limited to a couple of hours during the week. I feel that the mother should have the custody of the child for the whole week and during the weekends, it should be with the father.

Uma Challa, member of Save Indian Family and president of the All India Forgotten Women, feels that this protest will help create awareness.

"The people in power should know that this issue cannot be ignored. It is for the first time in India that an issue of this sort is being raised. There is so much hype regarding gender equality and I feel that parents should be equal partners in the upbrining of a child," Challa says.

"What the lawmakers and enforcers should realise is that the father is not just a sperm donor. His role is very important and his existence cannot be eliminated once a divorce takes place. I feel that through this protest we also want to tell the courts that they would be promoting child abuse by picking the parents for a child," Challa adds.

According to the NGO, a father plays a crucial role in the upbringing of a child. They say they would stress on the fact that a role played by the father is equally important. A study put forth by the NGO states there are disastrous effects on a child who grows up in a fatherless home. Children who grow up in fatherless homes are:

  • 5 times more likely to commit suicide
  • 32 times more likely to run away from home
  • 20 times more likely to have behavioral disorders
  • 14 times more likely to commit rape
  • 9 times more likely to drop out of high school
  • 10 times more likely to abuse chemical substances (become drug addicts)
  • 9 times more likely to end up in a state-operated institution
  • 20 times more likely to end up in prison
  • 3 million teenage girls have sexually transmitted diseases
  • At least 1 out of 4 teenagers (between 14 years to 19 years) suffers from sexually transmitted diseases

With the divorce rates going up, CRISP feels that parents contemplating divorce should be required to meet a panel of experts and seek guidance in the process.

This would help in avoiding a bitter child custody battle and also prevent "parental alienation which occurs when one parent disallows the other parent from communicating with their children."

Apart from this an Early Intervention Project will be set up where divorcing parents would have to meet with a panel of experts to clarify issues such as custody, finance, education and children's upbringing before proceeding with the divorce.

Solution:

  •  The NGO says that best way to tide over this problem would be:
  •  Joint custody so that the child gets the support of both the biological parents
  • Put an end to the practice of alienating a child from either of the parents
  • Gender bias should be eliminated from family law and from future legislation. With equal footing, conflicts inherent in divorce situations disappear.






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