Friday, December 01, 2006

I heard today that a Pakistani court has ordered Misbah Rana (aka Molly Campbell) back to Scotland while a Scottish court decides the verdict on her custody (see link)
  • .

    According to her father (who she wishes to stay with) she is so distressed she say she 'will run away again'). She surely does not like her mum.

    Meanwhile her mother states that she is looking very forward to the 'reunion'. Not much of a 'reunion' of the other person involved does not want to see you, is it? I have before on this topic, but any parent who puts their own wishes above those of the child does not really have their best interests at heart. From all empirical evidence it appears that Misbah's father is not by any means abusive, nor does he wish to 'force her into an arranged marriage' as the British press had previously assumed due to their prejudice. If this mother ever wants any respect from her daughter, respect on which any kind of relationship is conditional upon, she should respect her wishes simply by letting her be where she wants to be. Which appears to be in Pakistan with her father and sister.

    I have commented before on this issue both here
  • and here.

    This story upsets me as it is a case where a parent is failing to see a child as a person in her own right but rather as an extension of herself. This mentality remains for me a source of grievance wherever I encounter it, and it causes no end of heartache and damage among young people.

    Society rarely suggests that an adult should be forced to continue living with a spouse if they no longer wish to. Why therefore are children still treated as chattel of their parents in this way? Ms Campbell clearly does not want the voice of her daughter to be heard, and she is patronisingly silencing her when she does attempt to be heard. If the courts take into account what is best for the child it may well seem that the father is more of a responsible caretaker with a more stable life, not subjecting her to live in what she defines as a 'hellhole' (which was how Misbah described her mother's home in Scotland).

    11 comments:

    Political Umpire said...

    I have spent a bit of time commenting on this on Dave Hill's blog (with a short bit on my own).

    In essence:

    These types of cases are not remotely uncommon. The only reason this has been the subject of a media frenzy is, I suspect, the fact that one of the parents is Islamic and the other is not.

    Whether it was with her consent or not, the father took the girl in flagrant violation of the Scottish court order for _interim_ custody.

    It is a basic principle of private international law that court orders for interim custody are respected by courts of different countries. Otherwise you’d have chaos.

    Therefore, the Pakistani court acted entirely properly – indeed it had no choice – in upholding the Scottish decision for interim custody. (Contrary to some Daily Mailesque speculation, it did not reach the decision on the basis of some nasty Sharia law or a view that the girl could not be sent to an infidel country or whatever, but on exactly the same grounds a UK court would have done. One up for Pakistan’s legal system and one in the eye for the Daily Mail and its ilk.)

    The overriding principle in custody cases (in the UK at least) is the welfare of the child. _Assuming_ that the media reports are correct and the girl is adamant that she wishes to return to the father, then one would expect the Scottish courts to make a decision to that effect, in short order.

    It is unfortunate if the girl has to be returned to Scotland to go through the motions while the court reaches what _seems_ an obvious decision. That, however, is not the fault of the arid legal rules in Scotland or Pakistan; it is entirely due to the conduct of the father. Like so many others in child custody disputes, the emotional anguish involved tempted him not to play by the rules. We can understand such an emotive step, but that does not mean we should excuse it.

    The rules are there for a reason. The next girl to go through a similar abduction might not be so willing as Misbah and might in fact be making speeches in support of her father only with a metaphorical pistol to her head. For all the reliability of the media, that might be what happened here. Either way, a civilised society does not resolve child custody battles on the basis of media sympathy.

    I hoped that the media might lay off the Mills/MacCartney divorce for the sake of the small child involved. No chance there and no chance here. Perhaps we’re not so civilised after all.

    Liz said...

    I agree that the father should have played by the rules. What upsets me here is the fact that the daughter has to return to Scotland while her fate is decided, and the overall attitude of the mother.

    voltaires_priest said...

    Not to mention that this is a 12-year old girl, not a toddler, who is clearly quite certain that she wants to live with her father. It's appalling that her views have been ridden over so completely. The fact that her mother even seems to call her a name ("Molly Campbell") that is different to what she calls herself (Misbah Rana), is just bizarre, and really quite disturbing.

    I think to be honest that in the mainstream media a lot of this stems from the idea in the back of many people's minds, that she couldn't possibly really want to live in Pakistan rather than in the UK. Evidently, however, she really does.

    james higham said...

    Very, very interesting to see a lady who recognizes that not all women are the 'parent of choice'. Family Law Courts think only this.

    David Duff said...

    "[A]ny parent who puts their own wishes above those of the child does not really have their best interests at heart"; and the results of that philosophy can be seen roamong round the council estates of this scepter'd Isle at all hours of the night, boozing, drugging and burning cars.

    And everyone, our hostess included, reaches for their 'Rights' like gunfighters in the Wild West, or perhaps more like penny-ante ambulance-chasing lawyers.

    voltaires_priest said...

    Eh?

    Political Umpire said...

    Liz - be careful of media speculation. They were too quick to run with the story of her being abducted against her will and facing a lifetime under the brutality of Sharia with a forced marriage at age 15 on the cards. They may yet be proved to have been too quick in the other direction as well.

    Court orders are routinely ignored or interpreted rather liberally by participants in custody disputes. The problem is that normal sanctions for such breaches - cost orders, striking out of cases, or imprisonment - are not normally appropriate as they would not be in the interests of the child. That‘s why people get away with them, and I don‘t expect any of those three sanctions to apply in the instant case. We can‘t be surprised to find that the father is forced to play by the rules. It seems not to be in the child’s interests to be returned to Scotland but I’d be a bit cautious about accepting the initial media reports. Does anyone have a link to what the Pakistani court actually said?

    Ps trust holidays going well. Now that the Ashes have become competitive, the English winter is brightening up but I’m not getting any sleep. Wish we were on NZ time.

    Gracchi said...

    I have to say I follow the Umpire on this. Its incredibly difficult for us to know at such a distance what this girl thinks- and personally I don't think we should try. Let's leave it to the courts and teh family to hopefully find a way out of this mess. Leglislating from a distance is too hard for me I'm afraid.

    Anonymous said...

    It seems to be overlooked that this girl's behaviour (such as calling the home she shared with her mother a "hellhole") is so typically teenager-melodramatic it shows she's really not all that mature. It seems to me FC compares her situation too much to adult situations. She is not a grown up, and that is why she is still in custody of one of her parents. Although she has a right to be heard, it's not a given that her wishes should prevail, and if the Court finds she should be in permanent custody of her mother then that is not an injustice.

    Liz said...

    I have to say I'm with Voltaire's priest on this one. I commented in my previous posts about the the fact that the mother calls her daughter by a name she expressly does not wish to be known as. This is indictive of her whole attitude - seeing a child not as a person in her own right but rather as an extension.


    Anon - A 'hellhole' was reportedly how the girl described her mother's home to her father. She is still a teenager, true, but this does not mean she should be forced to live with an alcoholic mother she clearly dislikes and does not want to be with. Women were once forced to stay with abusive husbands against their will. Children should have more rights, not fewer.

    It's a bit of a mess. I see PU's point about following the rules, but I very, very much doubt in this instance the girl is under duress. She doesn't like her mother, period. And what I have seen of the mother's attitude I have to say I understand why.

    Political Umpire said...

    I don't think anyone disagrees with the argument that if the girl is adamant that she wants to live with the father, and there's no evidence that she is under duress or that he is somehow an unsuitable parent, that she should be returned to Pakistan.

    If that's the case, it's unfortunate that she has to go to Scotland in the meantime (though the ruling by the Pakistani court on that point has been appealed). But the blame for that misfortune lies with the father, who chose to try and buck the system.

    Secondly, when in Scotland she will be independently represented at the hearing, and will have been interviewed by professionals independently of the parents. That will be the best way of determining what her true feelings actually are.