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Shared parenting is the right of a child PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Anupam Sharma   
01 August, 2011|BureaucracyToday

Parenting is bliss and when the catastrophe of a divorce strikes the children of a married couple are the worst hits. India society and courts generally rule in favour of the mother for the custody of the child leaving behind the father in agony who is separated from his offspring. The Children's Rights Initiative for Shared Parenting (CRISP), an NGO, is trying to provide a solution and it is educating society about the benefits of shared parenting. Some excerpts from an interview with Kumar V Jahgirdar who is running this unique NGO.

Tell us about your Initiative for Shared Parenting.
A child needs both the natural parents and joint custody or shared parenting is the only solution for such circumstances when both the parents decide to be separated. We suggest a workable arrangement like the child should spend the weekdays with one parent and the weekends with the other. The school vacation time of the child should be shared equally.

The Father is generally at the receiving end as it is believed that the mother can bring up a child in a better way. What is your say about this notion?
This is a myth and is part of our social mindset. It is true that a child needs the mother. But the father is as important as the mother in the normal upbringing of children. It is also not fair to compare the mother's love with the father's affection. Since divorce rates are rapidly increasing, especially in the educated and affluent classes in cities, shared parenting should be made mandatory in our country. Otherwise Indian society will end up as a fatherless society. Any change in society is gradual.

Hence it is difficult for movements like yours to expedite that change. Your comment?
The CRISP is educating society and government authorities on the importance of fatherhood and the evils of fatherless children. We have also given memorandums to the Chief Justice of India, the Law Minister and the Law Commission explaining our approach on the issue. In fact the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights {NCPCR} has appreciated our efforts and taken our views seriously. We have also been invited three times by the Rajya Sabha Standing Committees for our opinion on issues like the irretrievable breakdown of marriage, female foeticide and the misuse of Section 498A (dowry cases) of the IPC. We are very confident that things are changing and fathers are getting decent visitation rights, especially in South India after our movement in family courts.

Your personal experience, please?
I have been fighting for my daughter's custody for over a decade and my case is reported to have come up before the Karnataka High Court and the Supreme Court twice. Their landmark judgments in many cases have been used widely as a citation in other cases throughout the country. My ex-wife married well-known cricketer Anil Kumble. She agreed to share the child on alternate weeks, but backed out saying there is no lady in my house to take care of my child.

How successful has been your initiative and what kind of responses are you getting from society?
We have got more than 5,000 members throughout the country and our NGO has eight chapters in most of the Indian cities. We give free counselling through our helpline and we have helped many suicidal dads who are depressed for not being allowed to meet their kids. However, still a lot of work has to be done in this field. Ours is a unique NGO in the country which is fighting for child rights to have access with both parents which is their fundamental right. The father is also to be considered equally important in the child's life and we have to stop the gender bias against dads. Since research has adequately proved that the father is equally competent to take care of children. Shared parenting is in the best interest of kids.


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