Written by Priyanka Kumari
TIMES NEWS NETWORK
Bangalore: “Even before prosecution, I have been sentenced for life. Living away from my child is like a punishment”, said Pradeep Kumar (name changed). Blessed with a loving son, his was a happy married life. In 2002, his company transferred him to Mumbai. He shifted on the pretext that his wife would join him in six months, after he is settled. That never happened. His life fell apart. Now, the couple is divorced and the wife has the custody of the child.
“Since 2005, I have been separated from my child. I haven’t had the chance to spend even a week with him. I met him for a day or two, which was possible when my in-laws were here because that was the assigned venue. In January they shifted to some other city. Now I am not even allowed that”, he said with a heavy voice.
On the eve of Fathers Day, people from various walks of life — senior citizens, harassed husbands and single fathers — got together to protest against creation of fatherless society.
“Shared access of the child is what we demand. When women can work then why can’t fathers be homemakers? Separated couples should continue to be friends, for the child’s sake”, said Kumar Jahgirdar, president, Children’s Rights Initiative for Shared Parenting (CRISP), an NGO.
Added P Suresh, another father separated from his child, “There should be equal rights for both parents, keeping necessities of the child in mind. Special fasttrack courts should be set up for such cases. The cases normally drag for 10-15 years and by that time a child is grown up, ready to start his/her own family”.
“Our aim is to sensitize the judiciary. We have been submitting memorandum to the judges. A child needs both parents. Visitation permits given to fathers are like weekend television programme for two hours. This must change,” said Virag Dhulia, PRO, Save Indian Family Foundation.
MOTHERS-IN-LAW PROTEST TOO
Neena Dhulia, president, Karnataka Mother In-Law Association, protesting at the rally organized by CRISP said: “Fathers are the silent sufferers. The Dowry Act and the Domestic Violence Act are at times used on innocent people. The loopholes in these Acts are misused to harass families. Is there any law to protect us from this? When a child is in the custody of the mother, the in-laws are also denied access to him. ”