NGOs want shared-parenting rights, gender-neutral laws
news Sunday, June 14, 2015 - 05:30
Non-Governmental Organisations fighting for "gender-neutral" family laws will hold country-wide rallies on June 20, activists said on Sunday. They are seeking implementation of the Law Commission's report on providing joint custody of child/children in cases of matrimonial discord/breakdown. "On June 20, a day before the Father's Day, we will hold a nationwide rally to demand shared parenting to be made mandatory in accordance with a draft Law Commission recommendation of May 2015," Kumar V. Jahgirdar, president of Bengaluru-based Child Rights Initiative for Shared Parenting (CRISP), told IANS on phone. "The government of India ought to take steps to move a bill - as per Law Commission draft - in the coming session of parliament, with necessary amendments in guardianship and custody laws," he added. Swarup Sarkar, founder of Delhi chapter of Save Family Foundation NGO, said suicide by married men owing to matrimonial disputes in India were on the rise. "We keep getting cases of men not able to get access to their biological kids. During counselling, we find that many such persons harbour suicidal tendencies because nobody is bothered to even listen to their problems. We demand a separate commission for men in line with the panel for women in India," he said. "The government has to consider Law Commission findings in view of changes in Indian society. If a woman can multitask, there is no reason why a married man can't perform domestic chores, including raising children," Jahgirdar added. The Law Commission's draft law submitted to the government on May 22 proposed amendments to existing guardianship and custody laws. The draft provides for consideration of welfare of children as paramount while deciding custody issues. "There is disparity in importance given to principle of welfare of children by different legislations regulating custody and guardianship," Law Commission chairman Justice A.P. Shah said. "As a result, in fiercely fought custody battles, there are no ways to ensure that the interests of the child are actually protected," he said. The draft law proposed children should have access to grandparents. Sudha Rajashekar, who heads the grandparents' wing of CRISP, said grandparents often were victims of their children's matrimonial discords. "There is no law in our country that protects our rights as grandparents in case of matrimonial disputes of our children," she said. She advocated a law on the lines of those pertaning to inheritance and succession to ensure old people's right to have access to their grandchildren in case of marital discords and breakdown of marriages.