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Deprived parents protest against custody law PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Staff Report   

LAHORE: A large number of civil society activists and parents gathered at the Liberty Roundabout on Saturday and staged a peaceful protest against the ‘custody laws’ and ‘visitation schedules’ prevailing in the custodian/guardian courts of Pakistan.

The event was organised by the My Foundation For Separated Children. The protesters gathered at the roundabout after dawn and lit candles, symbolising hope to see their children.

They were also holding pictures of their children, banners, placards inscribed with slogans like “My hugs are waiting for my child”, “Chief Justice, our kids are awaiting your attention” and “Do our children deserve just two hours in a month with us?”

The foundation’s spokesman, Tariq Nawaz, said that the protest had been arranged against the “cruel family and custody laws, which are prevailing in Pakistan’s guardian courts”.

He said that when a separation or divorce case was registered in a court that involved child custody, the courts granted temporary custody of the child to one of the parents termed custodial parent. “The deprived non-custodial parent is allowed to meet his/her own children for just two hours in a month within court premises,” he explained.

He said that the interim custody prevailed until the case was deposed of, which usually takes several years.

“Until then, the child is deprived of meeting the other half of his/her family. In short, the parent-child bond eventually breaks up with one of the parents, at least physically. A child ends up losing a parent forever due to the stringent ‘interim custody laws’,” he said.

“This is a cruel practice by the guardian courts,” said Tariq Nawaz, a parent. “How can a court keep a child away from either of the parents? Where is the right of a child? Has anyone ever thought of it from the child’s perspective?” he asked. According to figures, more than 100,000 children across Pakistan were in interim custody.

“We demand more reasonable visitation to our children. A major progress in this respect is a collective constitutional writ petition, which we have recently filed in the court of Lahore High Court Chief Justice Azmat Saeed,” said Nawaz. “We are not demanding equal time, as we know it may not be practically possible. But the time granted must be sufficient and reasonable to keep the parent-child bond healthy.”


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