just money bags: Changing role of fathers
"It is a
wise father that knows his own child" - Shakespeare's words
continue to resonate in the modern world where fathers are moving
away from being strict, disciplinarian figures to a source of
emotional support for their children.
Shimla: For them,
International Father's Day has no relevance. They are a group of
"harassed" men who have been denied their parenting rights. These
are divorced fathers who have been demanding equal access to their
These fathers are keen to take care of their children as a
practice and make this law mandatory through legislation.
"This Father's Day (June 19), we are seeking parenting rights and
joint custody of children in case of divorce or separation,"
Shimla-based software engineer Atul Sood (name changed) told IANS.
Sood, who has been facing a divorce case, said: "Despite a court
order, my wife and her family is not allowing me to meet my kid.
For more than three years, I have not met her and even not seen
Added Ramandeep Bajwa of Chandigarh, "In spite of the court giving
me the permission to meet my child, the mother tutors the kid not
to speak to me when the meeting takes place. So when I go to meet
my child, she doesn't speak to me at all."
"It's really shameful that I have fathered the child but I can't
speak to her," he added.
Bangalore-based NGO Children's Rights Initiative for Shared
Parenting (CRISP), with more than 2,500 members across the
country, said shared parenting and joint custody of children
should be implemented as a rule in divorce or separation cases.
"On Father's Day, we demand the basic rights of children to access
both biological parents. For this, there is a need for
implementing shared parenting and joint custody as a rule in
separation and divorce cases," CRISP Founder and President Kumar
V. Jahgirdar told IANS on phone from Bangalore.
"It's not fair on the part of the court to interview the child for
selecting a parent (in divorce case). There should be no interview
of the child up to the age of 12," he said.
CRISP, with its regional chapters in Chandigarh, Chennai,
Hyderabad, Mumbai, Delhi and Lucknow, has been fighting to set up
special courts to deal with child custody cases.
"We are demanding special courts to deal with child custody cases
and address the problems faced by the parents who have been
deprived of the joint custody," said Jahgirdar, who is fighting
for shared parenting of his daughter with his ex-wife.
"Moreover, all child custody cases should be settled within three
months of application in the family courts," he added.
Bajwa said the courts have a more favourable approach towards
"Indian matrimonial and child custody laws are biased against
men," he added.
CRISP is demanding punishment for people who misuse the Indian
Penal Code as a tool to deprive the father and his family members
of access to their children.
S.P. Sidhu, a leading lawyer based in Chandigarh, said: "As per
law, a child below the age of five always remains in the custody
of the mother and the father doesn't have the right to bring him
or her up."
"Even if the child is more than five years old, the court
generally favours the mother for custody. However, only in
exceptional cases the court gives custody to a father, that too
after he convinces the court that the mother is not taking care of
the child well," he said.
Delhi-based child counsellor Ekta Singh said: "For a child, both
the parents are equally important and isolation of one of them in
most cases leads to mental distress and trauma in the child."
According to CRISP, during 2008, 9,000 divorce cases were filed in
Delhi, 7,500 in Mumbai and 5,000 in Bangalore. The figures were
collected from family courts in the three cities.