Should Kids be Tortured as Chattels by Fighting Parents?

April 29, 2023

Sally is my wife, but not my Chattel.” – John Bercow (b.1963). Member/Speaker of British Parliament.

I will be master of what is my own;
She is my goods, my chattels, she is my house,
My household stuff, my field, my barn,
My horse, my ox, my ass, my anything;
And here she stands, touch her whoever dare.”

In Taming the Shrew - William Shakespeare (1564- 1616), renowned English poet and playwright.

If you think that we have progressed from Shakespeare to Bercow, quoted above, now there are instances of man and women turning their children into chattels as reflected in the report by Swati Deshpande of TNN and published in TOI (25/4/23) and excerpted here.

Child is not chattel, parents expected to give preference to child's welfare over own rights: Bombay HC

“Children cannot be treated as chattel or property where the parents would have absolute rights over the destiny and life of their children,’’ said the Bombay High Court, observing that the paramount consideration is the welfare of the child and not the legal rights of the parents. A bench of Justice RD Dhanuka and Justice Gauri Godse on April 11, 2023 held it necessary "to strike a balance" in deciding between a parent’s right and a child’s right, as the HC directed that both parents are "expected to give preference to the welfare of the child over their own rights."

The HC was pronouncing a mechanism for access of minor child to a father in India, as directed by a family court, and said, “This is an unfortunate case where due to a bitterly fought matrimonial dispute between the parents, the children have suffered." The HC said, “In our country, matrimonial disputes constitute the most bitterly fought adversarial litigation. A stage comes when warring couples stop seeing reasons. The children are treated as chattel. In such cases, the role of the Court becomes crucial. The Court is required to exercise parens patriae (guardian of child) jurisdiction and compel the parties to do something which is in the best interest of the child."

The child and mother are residing abroad and the father was seeking access during summer holidays between June 5 and August 15, 2023 and for orders to the mother to bring the child to India to interact with elder siblings too. The child, a mid teen, is required to be treated as an individual and with respect, said the court. The child in an interaction with court last year was unwilling to meet the father though holding no grudge but wanted to meet elder siblings.

The HC said, it was in the child’s interest to have company of both parents.

“Due to the bitterly fought litigation between the parents," the court said, the child was deprived of father’s and siblings’ company adding, "For the healthy growth of a child, it is necessary that a child has the company of both his parents as well as his siblings."

The subject is open to many views. What are yours? Your response is welcome in the format given below (Pl scroll down a bit). Once again, welcome to reason.



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By John B Monteiro
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