NEW DELHI -- A group of fathers has urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to delink the rights and welfare of children from the ministry of women and child development.
A memorandum sent to the Prime Minister's Office on June 16 was signed by 300 people, mostly fathers who had been separated from their children after a divorce.
Some women who had lost touch with their grand-children were among the signatories.
The letter, written under the aegis of Child Rights Initiative for Shared Parenting (CRISP), an NGO working for children's rights, said the government should realise "the serious effects" of parental alienation on a child caused by single-parent families following a divorce or separation.
"The women and child development ministry is a ministry primarily for women. How can a child's welfare be the domain of a woman alone? We demand a separate ministry for children, with men being stakeholders in the process of policy making for them," said Kumar Jahgirdar, CRISP national president.
In the letter to the PM, the men said while the WCD ministry talked about street children, there was no "adequate legal protection for children of separated parents".
"It is observed that custodial parents, usually mothers, alienate a child from the non-custodial parent, the fathers, due to ill will between them," it said.
Children were "abused", it said, listing ill-treatment such as emotional blackmail, "poisoning young minds" against the non-custodial parent and "severe" reprimands.
"Some parents even go to the extent of filing false rape charges against the other parent to spite and harass them, without understanding the life-long guilt and torture of the young mind in bearing a false charge against a father or mother," the letter said.
The fathers also demanded that the present legislative and legal apparatus be immediately corrected.
It said all child custody cases should be disposed of after trial within six months of an application in the court "in the best interest of children and speedy justice".
Demanding the allocation of special custody courts working in the evenings and on holidays for long-pending cases, the letter said the "father is reduced to a mere visitor in 98 per cent of custody cases in India and children are the direct sufferers of (the) lack of fathers."
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