Parents Left Behind in International Child Abductions - Part 3

In our last two blog posts, we have looked at the issue of international child abduction, as more parents are choosing to kidnap their children and flee to another country. However, the parents left behind face serious obstacles in finding their children and regaining child custody, especially in countries who are not party to the Hague Convention. Today, we will take a final look at the issue and discuss how countries like India and Japan are responding to criticism.

As more left-behind parents become increasingly fed up with Japan's reluctance to provide any aid in international child abductions, the Japanese Embassy has taken notice. It has said that Japan is making efforts to deal with the child abduction issue and wants to make sure the welfare of the children involved is the main focus.

Japan has expressed interest in signing the Hague Convention several times in the past. However, the sticking point appears to be Japan's concern that becoming a party to the convention would be detrimental to Japanese women and their children who left the U.S. to flee an abusive partner. Signing the treaty could leave these women and their children vulnerable to further abuse.

According to the State Department, there have been no cases in which a kidnapped child brought to Japan has been returned by order of Japanese courts.

Stephanie Eye, chief of the State Department's Eastern Hemisphere abductions division, says Japanese culture is accepting of only one parent having custody of a child after a divorce. Therefore, it is common for fathers there to be unable to see their children because they lack legal visitation rights. According to Eye, part of her efforts includes presenting the benefits of having both parents involved in children's lives.

Meanwhile, India has not signified any intention to sign the Hague Convention. The State Department does not seem optimistic on the prospects at this point. According to the department, a child who has been taken to India has little hope of being ordered back to the U.S. by Indian courts. International parental child abduction is not a crime in India, and U.S. custody orders are rarely recognized.

Despite these obvious setbacks, the State Department remains optimistic that, with time and pressure, these countries will come to realize the serious and devastating implications of this crime.

Source: The Washington Post "Japan, India pressed to curb child abductions," David Crary, 7 December 2010

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