Press Release to voice the concerns of senior citizens in a child custody matter

PRESS RELEASE

Sub: CRISP voicing the concerns of paternal grandparents.

Children’s Rights Initiative for Shared Parenting (CRISP), an NGO working in the area of child welfare by commandeering the cause of joint custody / shared parenting for unfortunate children of erring couples, is happy to carry the message of senior citizens who are denied custody of their grandchildren for no fault of theirs. The only fault of these unfortunate senior citizens is that they have given birth to a male and are paying the price for being a husband’s parents (Paternal Grandparents).

CRISP is the first NGO for this cause which has become a serious concern for our society. CRISP was launched from Bangalore on June 14, 2008 (Fathers Day) to fight for the child rights to have access with both parents and we have a group of about 500 people all-round the country as members. CRISP has opened chapters throughout the country. Even National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) has appreciated the social work in taking up the cause of children (enclosed copy of letter).

In today’s dynamic socio – economic age, the age of marriages has reduced drastically and the longevity of marriages is seriously challenged and jeopardized and to add to that, couples, especially women, are heading towards divorce for trivial reasons and do not even give a thought to the welfare and upbringing of their children who are deprived of the love, care and affection of one of their parents (fathers generally). If the statistics published for metros like Mumbai and Delhi is anything to go by, on an average 40 % of marriages are ending up in nasty divorces. And for marriages involving children, the litigants are involved in long drawn custody battles where the innocent and unfortunate children merely end up being the objects and objectives of an ego war between the separating / separated couples.

Going by the norm of custody battles, in 99% of the cases, interim / final custody of children is given to the mother and fathers are given a meager visitation rights after a long fight. However in all this legal entangle and marriage – divorce fight, the society, the erring couples, the judiciary and all and sundry are very conveniently ignoring a visibly silent section of the society aka the parents of the husband involved in the divorce – custody battle. Divorce is between Husband and Wife and not between Grandparents and Grand children. This bond of Love and Affection is inseparable.

As it is, it is a herculean task for the father to meet his children and that too mostly happens in the court complex, it is all the more difficult for his parents to do so due to many logistical factors. Some of those factors are:-

1)    As they are old, it is practically inconvenient for them to travel for all visitations to court.

2)    Also as psychologists put it, that old age is often the recall of childhood; it becomes all the           more difficult, inconvenient and cumbersome for the grandparents to meet their grandchildren in the court complex.

3)    More often they sacrifice their desires for their sons.

4)    No one really speaks for them or thinks about them.

As the old proverb goes, “Interest is dearer than principal”, it is also a well known fact that grandparents love their grandchildren more than they had loved their children. And as they have given the society the rich treasure of their experience and blessings, do they not deserve the love, care and affection of their grandchildren in their dusky days? If their son and daughter – in – law are not able to survive their marriage, why should grandparents bear the brunt of this fallacy and be deprived of their right to spend quality time with their grandchildren?

More often it is seen that the courts are taking a very long time, often years, to decide simple custody cases and till that time the interim custody remains with the mother and the maternal grandparents of the children. This is a clear cut discrimination and bias between the parents of a wife and parents of a husband. Is it that for every failed marriage the husband’s family only has to keep paying price and keep compromising irrespective of the reason due to which the marriage is not workable? Just because the younger generation is now becoming a scapegoat of the cultural war between the conservatives and liberals, it is a question we need to ask ourselves today how fair is it to carry on with the current state of affairs wherein there is an undue sentimental balance tilt in favor of the wife and her folks and against the husband and his folks?

Grandparents have a lot of experience of life and have seen the ups and downs of life and have come out of it. Moreover they are also the carrier of generational and traditional values and are largely responsible for imbibing those values into their grandchildren. It will be totally unfair to deprive both the grandchildren and the grandparents of this individual right.

Today CRISP makes an emotional appeal to the civil society, the media and the government on behalf of the senior citizens who unfortunately are also the parents of a husband, to understand the pain of these people and ensure steps that do not deprive them of their right to spend quality time with their grandchildren. Judiciary has to take immediate steps and give justice to the senior citizens.

Also it becomes imperative to mention here that children also long to meet their grandparents aka Tatha-Ajji, Dada – Dadi as they fondly address them, and when they are deprived of this right, whereas their friends are able to do so, it greatly impacts their psyche adversely and leaves deep psychological scars on their persona which are perhaps irreparable.

The feeling of incompleteness of family develops inherent insecurity in the children as a result of which they develop complex personality imbalances and the result is already present before us in the form of statistics from the United States. Due to a large number of fatherless children there, studies have shown that such children are:-

·         5 times more likely to commit suicide

·         32 times more likely to run away from home.

·         20 times more likely to have behavioral disorders

·         14 times more likely to commit rape.

·         9 times more likely to drop out of high school.

·         10 times more likely to abuse chemical substances (become drug addicts)

·         9 times more likely to end up in a state-operated institution

·         20 times more likely to end up in prison.

·         3 million teenage girls have sexually transmitted diseases

·         At least 1 out of 4 teenagers (between 14years to 19years) suffers from sexually transmitted diseases.

It is up to the civil society, the media and the government to decide whether they want a similar situation in India or they want to take a cue from the mistakes of other societies and take steps to avoid it. One of the positive steps towards this is to understand and emphasize the need for joint custody / shared parenting so that the catastrophic effects of a divorce are minimized if not trivialized and not only the father but the paternal grandparents of the children can also enjoy the company of their grandchildren and to some extent salvage the pain of the breakage of their children’s marriage.

With an ending note it becomes imperative to mention here that CRISP has received many complaints from grandparents in this area and thus CRISP decided to convene this press conference to air the voices of this hitherto forgotten section of the society who are in the evening of life and their sentiment should be understood and respected as a mark of tribute for the contribution to the society.

 

With Best Wishes

Kumar Jahgirdar
President, Children’s Rights Initiative for Shared Parenting (CRISP)

 

 

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