Saturday, June 19, 2010

Rights of a Father? A case of reverse gender discrimination?

“The Family Court system blatantly discriminates against fathers, heartlessly separates them from and prevents their access to their own biological children”, said the newly formed All India Men’s Welfare Association (AIMWA).

As a sign of protest against the Family Court system, AIMWA organised a protest before the Family Courts on Friday at Chennai. Around fifty of its members were distributing pamphlets and campaigning against the system.

AIMWA is an organization formed to protect the constitutional and human rights of men. It fight against gender discrimination, ‘legal terrorism’ and every other form of abuse suffered by men.

M Antony Francis, coordinator, AIMWA told Law et al. News “Indian Family Courts have declared a war against fathers and are adopting every possible means to create a “Fatherless Society”. We concur with the recent observation of the Supreme Court of India that “the Hindu Marriage Act is breaking more families than uniting”. We would like to add that the worst sufferers of the Indian Family Court system are fathers and children”

He further added “Section 498A, framed to protect women from dowry harassment, has become a hot topic of discussion these days due to misuse. As per National Crime Bureau (NCRB), in the year 2007, 187540 people were arrested under Section 498A, of which, the offense could be proven only for 13247 people. 94% of those arrested were found innocent. As per NCRB, in the last ten years there has been a spurt in the incidence of suicide by married men. A law that was supposed to act instrumental in women empowerment and to enable them to speak against their abuse, looks like has today, become a curse for many a families”

“The modus operandi of the Family Courts includes depriving fathers of the right to love and care for their biological children and forcing fathers to pay huge sums of money to support children they are not allowed to see. The Family court system  encouraging false allegations of abuse to paint fathers as unfit parents” S Hariharan, General Manager of a Telecom Company, a divorcee himself in Chennai told Law et al. News.

Multiple legal battles by mothers eliminate biological fathers from their children’s lives, lamented another divorcee MP Kalaichelvan, a Civil Engineer.  He said that the present system  passes ex-parte orders based solely on the allegations made by a child’s mother..It also allow mothers to brazenly disobey visitation orders without legal repercussions to her. Sometimes biological fathers are labelled “kidnappers” for trying to make contact with their own children. Prolonging custody and visitation matters for years, thereby driving fathers into financial and emotional bankruptcy and forcing them to give up the desire to see their children, are the issues of concern to us,” he said.

In its memorandum to the Principal Sessions Judge VRamalingam, AIMWA has prayed “Special fast-track courts should be set up at the earliest to deal with custody issues. Exclusive, fully functioning Divisional Bench should be set up in all High Courts and Supreme Court to hear appeals in matters of child custody’’.

They also said when a person or couple approaches court for divorce, counseling of the parents by professional counselors should be given first priority and except in extreme cases of violence or unhealthy behavior by either partner, children should be given equal and meaningful access to both parents and grandparents on both sides.

The Memorandum further suggested that both parents should made financially responsible for the upbringing of child in proportion to their earnings and not based on demands made by either partner. If a partner prevents a child from having equal and meaningful contact with the other partner, they should be counseled first to understand the importance of equal parenting and the best interest of a child.

“If either partner repeatedly disobeys orders of equal access and meaningful contact with children, then the children should be placed in the full custody of the partner who will allow equal access to the other parent”, the participants demanded in their memorandum.

Rights of a Father? A case of reverse gender discrimination?

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